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QissaSohni Mahiwal ,is one of the most popular tragic romances from Sindh and Baluchistan. Around the 18th century the beautiful girl Sohni was born to a potter named Lula (Loolha).As Sohni grew up, she helped her father decorate his pots.As soon as the Surahis (water-pitchers) and mugs came off the wheel, she would draw artistic designs on them and set them up for sale.
Shahzada Izzat Baig, a rich trader from Bukhara(Uzbekistan), came to Punjab on business and halted in the town of Gujrat. Here he saw Sohni at the shop and was completely smitten. The song goes that instead of looking after the 'mohars' (gold coins) in his pockets, he roamed around with his pocket full of love. Just to get a glimpse of Sohni, he would end up buying the water pitchers and mugs everyday.
Sohni too lost her heart to Izzat Baig. Instead of making floral designs on earthenware, she started building castles of love in her dreams. Instead of returning to Bukhara with his caravan, the noble-born Izzat Baig took up the job of a servant in the house of Lula, Sohni's father. He would even take their buffaloes for grazing. Soon, he came to be known as "Mahiwal" (buffalo herder).
When the people got to know about the love of Sohni and Mahiwal, there was a commotion within the Kumhar community, who consider themselves a high caste. It was not acceptable that a daughter from this community would marry an outsider, so her parents immediately arranged her marriage with another potter.
Suddenly, one day the "barat" (marriage party) of that potter arrived at Sohini's house. Sohni felt helpless and lost. She was sent off to the husband's house in a Doli (palanquin).
Izzat Baig renounced the world and started living like a faqir (hermit). He eventually moved to a small hut across the river from Sohni's new home. The earth of Sohni’s land was like a shrine for him. He had forgotten his own land, his own people and his world.
In the dark of night, when the world was fast asleep, the lovers would meet by the river. Sohni would come by the riverside and Izzat would swim across to meet her. He would regularly roast a fish and bring it for her. It is said that once, when due to high tide he could not catch a fish, Mahiwal cut a piece of his thigh and roasted it. Seeing the bandage on his thigh, Sohni opened it, saw the wound and cried.The next day, Izzat Baig was so badly wounded that he could not swim across. So Sohni started swimming across holding onto an earthenware pitcher.
Meanwhile, rumours of their romantic rendezvous spread. One day Sohni’s sister-in-law followed her and saw the hiding place where Sohni used to keep her earthenware pitcher inside the bushes. The next day, the sister-in-law removed the hard baked pitcher and replaced it with an unbaked one. That night, when Sohni tried to cross the river with the help of the pitcher, it dissolved in the water and Sohni drowned. From the other side of the river, Mahiwal saw Sohni drowning and jumped into the river and drowned as well.
According to the legend, the bodies of Sohni and Mahiwal were recovered from the River Indus near Shahdadpur, Sindh, some 75 km from Hyderabad, Pakistan. Sohni's tombis said to be in this city.
The story of Sohni and Mahiwal was popularized in the Punjabi poet Fazal Shah Sayyad's qissa (long poem), Sohni Mahiwal. Though Fazal Shah composed other poems on Heer Ranjha, Laila Majnu and others, Sohni Mahiwal "has been considered his best.