Posted by Nizam-un-Nisa Ayeda Naqvi on November 12, 2009
Not too far from where I live, in Lahore, Pakistan, is a little shrine. It is not the mausoleum of a famous poet or a Sufi saint, but the resting place of two star-crossed lovers who were denied the sanctity of marriage by their society almost five hundred years ago.
And yet this tomb is treated with the same reverence and etiquette as the shrines of any of the great mystics that dot the landscape here. In fact, if the visitors’ emotions are anything to go by, this shrine seems to have unparalleled power, for on any given day, devotees can be seen sitting in corners of the marble mausoleum, sobbing softly as they contemplate the tragic story of the beautiful Heer and the devastated Ranjha.
Images of the young, romantic Ranjha, with his long hair, sitting alongside the shy Heer on the riverbank watching the cattle graze as he played his soulful flute for her, dance above the devotees’ heads. Visions of her angry uncle spying on them, her parents forcefully marrying her off to a suitor of their choice and sending her to a distant town while the devastated Ranjha becomes a yogi, continue to haunt the visitors.