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Mirza Sahiba (Punjabi: ਮਿਰਜ਼ਾ ਸਾਹਿਬਾਂ, مرزا صاحباں, mirzā sāhibāṁ) is one of the four popular tragic romances of Panjab. The other three are Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Sassi Punnun. There are five others of lesser popularity Momal Rano, Umar Marvi, LiLa Chanesar, Noori Jam Tamachiand Dhaj, Ror Kumar These nine tragic romances are popular in Panjab. These five are also common to Sindh & Baluchistan , and along with Sohni Mahiwal and Sassi Punnun and are commonly known as Seven Queens (Sindhi: ست مورميون) of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. they are culturally included in both Panjabi and Sindhi traditions.
Mirza, a Kharal Jatt, from Panjab, and Sahiban belong to Syal Tribe They were childhood classmates as well as playmates. Sahiban was the daughter of Mahni Khan, the chief of Kheewa, a town in what is now the Sial territory in the Jhang district Panjab, Pakistan. Shayer Peelu raves about her beauty and says:
|“||Sahiban stepped out with a lungi tied around her waist, the nine angels died upon seeing her beauty.||”|
Shayer Peelu says about Mirza:
|“||Janam ditta mai baap ne roop ditta kartaar, aisa mirza soorma kharlan da sardar.||”|
Mirza is sent to his relatives' house in Khivan to study, where he meets Sahiban and they fall in love. When, later in life, Sahiban is to be wedded to Taha Khan of the Chander family by arrangement of her parents, she sends a message to Mirza, living in the village of Danabad, through a Brahmin called Karmu:
|“||You must come and decorate Sahiban’s hand with the marriage henna.||”|
Mirza's sister asks him not to try to rescue Sahiban, as it is the day of her own wedding and she wants her brother to be there. His whole family warns him that the "Salle" (referring to Sahiban's brothers) are aggressive and should be left alone, but Mirza pays no heed to this.
Mirza arrives on Bakki (the name of his mare) during Sahiban's mehndi ceremony and carries her away. Sahiban's brothers find out about this and decide to follow them. On the way, as Mirza decides to rest for some moments under the shade of a tree resting his head in Sahiban's lap. Sahiban's brothers and Chanders caught up fast with them.
Sahiban knew Mirza to be an accomplished archer who would not miss a target, and that if he shot at her brothers, the latter would surely die at Mirza's hands. Thus, before waking Mirza up from his slumber, Sahiban broke his arrows so he couldn't use them, and hoped that, on seeing her, her brothers might change their minds and welcome Mirza into the family. She thought that they'd understand their love that they had for each other, but they were not to be swayed and a fight ensued. Though Mirza fought with all his might, he is unable to defeat such a large number of people and killed by the blow of a sword to his head from behind. Sahiban did not want bloodshed from either side of her beloved ones and her love to be stained with her brothers' blood. So she ended the fight with self-annihilation. When Mirza dies, she killed herself with Mirza's sword. Out of all the legendary stories originating from Punjab, Mirza Sahiban's story is one of very few where the male's name comes first.
In popular culture
The legendary tale of Mirza Sahiban is now a part of Panjabi culture in form of folk songs sung by many singers including the legendary and talented Surinder Shinda, Alam Lohar, Kuldeep Manak, Gurmeet Bawa, Harbhajan Mann, Noor Jehan and many more. Noor Jehan sang the super hit song Mirza' - the traditional Punjabi folklore song in the music of legendary Pakistani musician Khursheed Anwar in the Pakistani film Mirza Jat released in 1982. The Late Alam Lohar is credited to be the post prolific singer of this folk tale.
- Duggal, Kartar Singh (1979). Folk romances of Panjab. Marwah. p. 129.
- A History of Panjabi Literature, SANT SINGH SEKHON & KARTAR SINGH DUGGAL, Sahitya Akademy, 1992, 439 pages, link: http://www.apnaorg.com/books/sekhon-1/sekhon.php?fldr=book&page=11
- Punjabi Literature and Poetry Punjabi Culture and Traditions