Hindu Folklore Of Indian Sub-Continent

The Hindu folklore of the Indian sub-continent are colorful tales of love and devotion that have been a part of this culture for centuries.

When a friend of ours is head over heels in love with someone, we often refer to him as Romeo. That is because the Shakespearean characters of Romeo and Juliet represent undying love and complete devotion. But in the Sub-Continent, though most people know who these people are, chances are that very few people would call that crazy friend of yours Romeo; there he will be referred to as "Majnoo".

Majnoo is Romeo's counterpart in the sub-continent, so if you are planning to visit that part of the world, you better learn a little about him or else risk being called ignorant. Though Majnoo is and will remain the most adored and idolized figure representing endless love, there are some other very famous folklore characters which have always been a part of sub-continent's colorful culture. But ironically, Majnoo who is the most loved figure, he did not even belong to this part of the world. But somehow the story was so intricately woven into the bright fabric of the Sub-continent that people have totally forgotten about Majnoo's homeland.


Majnoo literally means "Crazy" or "Mad" in Arabic and this was the name given to the young handsome man of Arabia who fell madly in love with a girl named 'Laila'. Now Majnoo's real name is believed to be 'QAIS'. No one is sure how the story came to be known, how much of it is true and who exactly were these two lovers, but people in the Sub-continent just love and adore them. They are utterly fascinated by these characters and actually don't care about it being true or fabricated.

Laila, it is said, was very dark skinned gypsy girl who was spotted by Majnoo one day and since that day his life started revolving around her. Majnoo couldn't live a day without seeing his beloved: he did not care about the difference in their social status or the risks of such love. He totally completely was mesmerized by the charms of Laila's beauty. But as luck would have it, Laila's father decided to marry her off to some man against her will. This decision shattered Majnoo's dreams of a life with her and he lost his mind.

This was when people started calling him 'Majnoo', believing he was a mad man. Since it became apparent that these star-crossed lovers couldn't unite, Majnoo left his palace and in sheer madness went off to a desert and soon starved himself to death. Laila, on the other hand, took some poison and killed herself on the very day of her wedding.

The most interesting facet of this folklore is that not many details are known about its two characters or their lives prior to their meeting. Many additions and subtractions have been made to this folklore over the decades, but the one thing that remains constant is the intensity of Majnoo's love for Laila. Every time this story is told, people in the Sub-continent just know what kind of love Majnoo had for his girl. So when you hear someone referring to another as Majnoo, know for sure that he is not talking about ordinary love here.


Another very famous love folklore is that of Sassi and Punnoo. Sassi was born in a Hindu family and her father was closely associated with the temples. On her birth, an astrologer told Sassi's father that one day his daughter would convert to Islam. This was too much of a shock as Sassi's father was very true to his faith. So he put his daughter in a basket and left it in the river.

The basket kept floating for days and luckily for Sassi, some people on the other side of the river fetched it. The basket was then taken to the man who had a small dyeing and dry cleaning business on the coast. This man was extremely happy to find a healthy baby in the basket, as he had no child of his own, he and his wife adopted the baby and named her Sassi. From the very start, Sassi was an exceptionally kind and pious girl. She grew up in a Muslim family and hence learnt all Islamic teachings.

Punnoo, on the other hand, was a prince who came to Sassi's part of the world for a few days and saw her one day in a park. He was so taken by the innocent beauty of Sassi that he decided to stay a bit longer. In order to get closer to Sassi, he disguised himself as a poor jobless man who was later hired by Sassi's father as one of his laborers. Back home, Punnoo's family was very worried about him, as they did not know about his whereabouts. They sent a few people to find out where Punnoo was, and when they came to know that he was working there as a poor laborer, they were shocked. This prompted his brothers to come to Kutch, the place where Sassi lived.

Meanwhile Punnoo proposed to Sassi and since everyone knew him, the proposal was accepted without any hesitance. But on the day of their wedding, Punnoo's brothers arrived and urged him to go back to his homeland. When refused to listen to them, he was given some heavy sedatives and kidnapped. Sassi was so worried about her husband that she decided to look for him: this took her to a desert. After days of walking, Sassi was so lonely, sad and heartbroken that she prayed for her death. Her prayers were answered, and an earthquake hit the desert and Sassi was buried alive under heaps of sand. Punnoo, on the other hand, ran back to Kutch as soon as gained consciousness and started looking for Sassi. He too came to the same desert and on seeing Sassi's dead body, died on the spot.


The most popular folklore of the Punjab area is that of Heer and Ranjha. Several poets and writers have narrated this story over and over again, giving it their personal touch. In Punjab, Laila is not as famous as Heer, who is still considered to be an epitome of beauty. Ranjha was her beau, whom she met when he came to her part of the world.

Ranjha is known for his love for music. It is said that he could create beautiful music with his flute. Whenever he wanted Heer to come and meet him in the park, he would make use of his flute. They belonged to different tribes and in Punjab in those days, this was not socially acceptable for marriage. Heer was therefore married to a man from her own tribe who, it is said, was not mentally stable. On the night of her wedding, Heer ran off with Ranjha. Where they went off to, no one knows for sure. It is believed that when people went out in search of the two, they could not be located. But some are also of the view that they were found and killed at the spot.

These stories of love and devotion will forever be an integral part of Sub-continent's rather multicolored fabric. They are passed on from one generation to another and hence are still as alive as ever in the hearts of the people.

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