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Sassui Punhun (Sindhi: سَسُئيِ پُنهوُن, Sassui Punhun, Urdu: سسی پنوں, Sassi Punnun, Punjabi: ਸੱਸੀ ਪੁੱਨੂੰ, Sassi Punnun), is a famous folktale of love told in the length and breadth of Sindh, Pakistan. The story is about a faithful wife who is ready to undergo all kinds of troubles that would come her way while seeking her beloved husband who was separated from her by the rivals.
The story also appears in Shah Jo Risalo and forms part of seven popular tragic romances from Sindh. The other six tales are Umar Marui, Sohni Mehar, Lilan Chanesar, Noori Jam Tamachi, Sorath Rai Diyach and Momal Rano commonly known as Seven heroines (Sindhi: ست سورميون ) of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.
This tragic story becomes for Shah the parable of seeker on mystical path who undergoes all kinds of tribulations in the quest of God whom he will find, at the end of the road, in his own heart, and Sassui, roaming in the wilderness and talking to the beasts, becomes something like feminine counterpart Majnun who, demented by his longing for Layla, is taken by the mystics of Persian and Turkish tradition as paragon of true lover.
Mir Punnhun Khan (Mir Dostein Hoth) is the son of Mir Aali, son of King Mir Hoth Khan, ancestor of the Hoths, a famous Baloch tribe in Balochistan. King Hoth was son of Mir Jalal Khan, ruler of today's Balochistan (Pakistan) region in the 12th Century, and father of Rind, Lashari, Hoth, Korai and Jatoi.
Sassui was the daughter of the Raja of Bhambore in Sindh (now in Pakistan). Upon Sassui's birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal family’s prestige. The Raja ordered that the child be put in a wooden box and thrown in the Sindhu. A washerman of the Bhambore village found the wooden box and the child inside. The washerman believed the child was a blessing from God and took her home. As he had no child of his own, he decided to adopt her.
When Sassui became a young girl, she was as beautiful as the fairies of heaven. Stories of her beauty reached Punhun and he became desperate to meet Sassi. The handsome young Prince therefore travelled to Bhambore. He sent his clothes to Sassi's father (a washerman) so that he could catch a glimpse of Sassi. When he visited the washerman's house, they fell in love at first sight. Sassui's father was dispirited, hoping that Sassi would marry a washerman and no one else. He asked Punnhun to prove that he was worthy of Sassui by passing the test as a washerman. Punnhun agreed to prove his love. While washing, he tore all the clothes as, being a prince, he had never washed any clothes; he thus failed the agreement. But before he returned those clothes, he hid gold coins in the pockets of all the clothes, hoping this would keep the villagers quiet. The trick worked, and Sassui's father agreed to the marriage.
Punnhun’s father and brothers were against his marriage to Sassui (Punnhun being a prince and she being a washerman's daughter) and so, for their father's sake, Punnhun's brothers traveled to Bhambore. First they threatened Punnhun but when he didn't relent, they tried more devious methods. Punnhun was surprised to see his brothers supporting his marriage and on the first night, they pretended to enjoy and participate in the marriage celebrations and forced Punnhun to drink different types of wines. When he was intoxicated they carried him on a camel’s back and returned to their hometown of Kech.
The lovers meet their end
The next morning, when Sassui got up, she realized that she was cheated. She became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of Kech Makran. To reach it, she had to cross miles of desert. Alone, she continued her journey until her feet were blistered and her lips were parched from crying "Punnhun, Punnhun!". The journey was full of dangerous hazards. Punnhun’s name was on Sassui's lips throughout the journey. She was thirsty, there she saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water to drink. Seeing her incredible beauty, he tried to force himself on Sassui. Sassui ran away and prayed to God to hide her and when God listened to her prayers, land shook and split and Sassui found herself buried in the valley of mountains. When Punhun woke in Makran he could not stop himself from running back to Bhambore. On the way he called out "Sassui, Sassui!" to which the shepherd told Punnhun the whole story. Then Punnhun also lamented the same prayer, the land shook and split again and he was also buried in the same mountain valley as Sassui. The legendary grave still exists in this valley. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai sings this historic tale in his sufi poetry as an example of eternal love and union with Divine.
- Dr.Nabi Bux Khan Baloach (1976). Popular Folk Stories:Sassui Punhun. Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan: Sindhi Adabi Board.
- Annemarie Schimmel (2003). Pain and grace:a study of two mystical writers of eighteenth-century Muslim India. Sang-E-Meel Publications.