This is the story of Prince Punnu and Sassi, a washerman’s daughter.
Stay tuned because this epic tale of love is a special one.
This story begins in Bambhore, Sindh.
The King of Bambhore had many sons,
but he was finally blessed with a daughter.
The king and his wife named her Sassi.
Sassi means the moon.
Sassi’s parents thought their daughter’s face possessed
the illumination and grace of the moon.
But an astrologer soon sowed fear in their hearts.
He said to the King of Bambhore
that their daughter would bring disgrace upon them.
This saddened the newborn’s parents.
They wrapped Sassi in warm clothes and put her in a basket.
To protect her daughter,
Sassi’s mother said prayers for her and tied a talisman around her neck.
Then they proceeded to send her down the River Indus.
A washerman spotted the basket floating towards him.
When he picked it up from the river, he saw the baby inside.
As luck would have it, he also uttered “Sassi” as he looked at the lovely girl.
He brought Sassi to his wife.
The washerman and his wife did not have children of their own.
So they raised Sassi with love considering her a divine blessing.
As Sassi grew up, the fame of her beauty spread far and wide.
The King of Bambhore got wind of it.
He wished to see the girl.
After Sassi arrived in Bambhore,
the queen, that is her real mother, saw the talisman around her neck
and recognised her instantly.
The couple was overjoyed.
The king requested Sassi to live in the palace with them.
But how could Sassi leave her poor parents who had raised her?
Still, the king tried to make Sassi stay.
One day, the King of Bambhore took Sassi to another king’s palace
where there was a beautiful garden.
He thought Sassi would be taken by it.
As Sassi strolled in the garden,
she came across a portrait of a handsome, young man
and love bloomed in her heart.
It was Punnu’s portrait
who was the son of Raja Ali Hoth
as well as Mir Jalal Khan’s grandson, the leader of Balochistan.
When Punnu discovered a beautiful woman had fallen in love with him,
he wished to see her.
He didn’t want to reveal that he was from a royal family.
So he reached Bambhore, disguised as a merchant.
He came to Sassi’s house on the pretext of getting his clothes washed.
Sassi recognised Punnu immediately.
Sassi’s father wanted her to marry a washerman.
After realising the truth about Punnu,
he decided to test Punnu.
Sassi’s father believed that that no matter how rich a person was,
he or she must possess humility.
He said to the prince,
“If you wash this shirt as well as a washerman does,
you may marry my daughter.”
The prince hadn’t washed even a handkerchief in his entire life.
He washed the shirt until it was torn to shreds.
To win over Sassi’s father,
he presented him with many gold coins.
Sassi’s father knew that his daughter would only be happy with Punnu.
So, he reluctantly accepted the coins.
Umar and Tumar, Punnu’s brothers, soon found out
that their brother’s wife-to-be was a washerman’s daughter.
They rushed to Bambhore and tried to dissuade him.
But when they saw their brother was not going to listen to them,
the two put on an act of supporting the marriage.
On the wedding night, Umar and Tumar plied their brother with alcohol.
When Punnu finally passed out,
they put him on a camel and set out for their home in Kech.
In the morning, Sassi discovered the deceit of her brothers-in-law
and she was utterly stunned.
Sassi set out for Kech, running in the desert barefooted.
She had to cross two deserts to reach Kech.
Crying Punnu’s name throughout, she kept running
until her lips were parched and her feet blistered.
Her throat had dried up from thirst.
She spotted a goatherd’s hut in the middle of the desert.
The goatherd gave her water,
but her beauty corrupted his mind.
He tried to force himself on her,
but somehow Sassi made an escape.
She found a hiding spot
and prayed to God to protect her.
It’s believed that the ground beneath her was torn asunder
and closed again after taking Sassi in its refuge.
Sassi’s stole remained outside, fluttering in the wind.
After witnessing the whole event, the goatherd fell on his knees
and begged God for forgiveness.
As atonement for his sin,
the goatherd became the tomb’s keeper.
Meanwhile, Punnu woke up and rushed to Bambhore to meet Sassi.
On the way, he saw Sassi’s stole.
The goatherd told him the story upon enquiry.
Punnu then sat next to Sassi’s tomb and prayed
that he should be united with dear Sassi.
Once again, the ground was torn asunder.
It closed back after taking Punnu into its fold.
Their tombs still stand in Lasbela.
In 1980, Haji Muhammad built a shrine to them
that is still visited by thousands
to remember Sassi and Punnu’s love story.