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The History of Jugni

By Karamjit Singh Aujla.
Translated by Gurjant Singh.
Originally Published in Punjabi Tribune 24th Sept 2005.

The popularity of Jugni has always touched the hearts of Panjabi mentality. She became a permanent part in the Panjabi folklore right since the ancient times. But who is Jugni? Nobody ever tried to find the veracity and because of it's simple Jugni-stanzas and simple versification, academic scholars never cared.

Jugni-poetry and Jugni-music took birth a century ago in 1906. Before that time, nowhere do we find any mention of her in history or the folk memory.

Jugni-poetry and Jugni-music was created by two folk singers and most probably its creation was accidental. These folk singers were Bishna and Manda. They were from Majha area and whatever I heard about them is as written below.

According to the late Pandit Diwan Singh, a resident of Khadur Sahib, Manda was a Muslim Mirasi. His village was Hasanpur, Thana Vairowal in Amritsar District. His real name was Mohammad but he was popular with his name Manda. Nobody knows anything about his family.

Bishna was also from Majha and was from a Jatt family. Nobody knew about his background untill 1969 when was asked from a freedom fighter Baba Makhan Singh of village Dhathi Jaimal Singh, he told that their stages were seen a couple of times in Patti and Kasur. Their favourite topics were Mirza and Tappe but they invented Jugni in 1906.

Baba Makhan Singh told that in 1906 when both of them were youths, the Brtish brought Jugni to India. When I asked that how British brought Jugni and what was Jugni, Baba Ji's answer was that English Queen's rule was over 50 years at that time. British ruled several parts of the Planet Earth and they thought that they should take a Torche to whole of their Empire. That flame of the Torche was itself Jugni which was taken from city to city in every country under British rule.

Baba Makhan Singh told that that flame was put in a big gold utensil and was taken to the every headquater of the districts. Wherever Jugni was taken big celebration were observed by the Govt. In all those shows Bands, Police department, army, Zaildars,high officials and high society people visited. In these shows Manda and Bishna also held their stage.

When Baba Makhan Singh was all explaining this, then a nearby person who looked a bit more educated, interupped that English didn't bring Jugni-flame. In fact it was Jubilee which illiterate Bishna and Manda pronounced as 'Jugni'.
From that gentleman's interruption suddenly the mystery of the word 'Jugni' was found that the word 'Jugni' took birth from the english word Jubilee. It is clear that in 1906 the Jubilee flame was taken everywhere under the rule of Queen Victoria at her 50th anniversary on the throne.

This Jubilee flame was taken to every main city and at the district headquaters celebrations and festivities took place under the charges of DC. On these festivals, Bishna Jatt and Manda Mirasi held their stage where they sang their own composed stanzas of Jugni with the instuments of Dhad and King. Because of the simplicity and easy versification, these verses of Jugni became so popular very soon that many other people started versification of Jugni Verses.

Wherever we find a 'Jugni-Verse' there we must find some city's, village's, and palce's name. Wherever Jubilee-flame of the English rulers went Bishna and Manda also went to those places and put their small stage somewhere near the big festivals to perform. Their one original 'Jugni-verse' is like this:

Jugni jaa varhi Majithe
koi Rann na Chakki peethe
Putt Gabhru mulak vich maare
rovan Akhiyan par Bulh si seete
Piir mereya oye Jugni ayi aa
ehnan kehrhi jot jagaee aa

This 'Jugni's poetic style and versification later became a traditional method and started taking much more in it's clasp but the beginning of 'Jugni' always remained in some city or place:

Jugni jaa varhi Ludhiane
Uhnun pai ge Anne Kaane
Maarn mukkian mangan Daane
Piir Mereya Oye! Jugni kehndi aa
Jehrhi naam Ali da laindi aa

Manda and Bishna were already used to take part in fesivals of Patti, Kasur, Ajnala and other towns of Majha region. Their Akhara or stage performance was famous. Manda used to play the instrument of Dhad and Bishna played the King. Singing performance was always together. They sometimes had composed stanzas at right while performing. If someone gave them a Rupee, they had composed a stanza linking the donor and his village's name.

'Jugni' Jubilee flame went from city to city and Bishna and Manda followed. Their popularity also rose to the great level by time. In those days while the movement for freedom didn't rose but in the mind of the masses anger was there. On many places faminines spead and droughts came. Public was illiterate and the rulers were cruel. So it was sure that the agony and sufferings the public suffered came in their stanzas.

The stanzas of English rule's criticism and their tyranny were also composed. These new stanzas became so popular in public that now the rulers could not tolerate. Government started banning Bishna and Manda's shows. Then Bishna and Manda started performing at some distance from the Jubilee fesivals but they gathered hugh crowds there too and many time police lathi-charged those gatherings. In those of their shows, people started talking frankly agaist the English rule on India and their atrocities, had been coming back while singing 'Jugni' in revolutionary manner.

Sorrowful End

From city to city 'Jugni' alais Jubilee went, Bishna and Manda followed, hugh crowed gathered. Anger against the English rule's opression rose, public got more restless. In the same manner when Jubilee functions in the city of Gujaranwala became insipid against the Bishna and Manda's stage, irritated police arrested and tortured them both to death. It is said that police buried them both in the middle of night in some unknown cemetry.

Canes of police had make them mum but their 'Jugni' is still there in every city and will remain in the hearts of the people of this sub-continent forever. It comes in mind that something should be done in the memory of these two ignored and forgotten martyrs, some monument should be made.'Jugni' itself is a great memorial of these two worthy artists in the hearts of million but the monuments in the honour of Victorian jubilee are there in V.J. Hospital ( Victoria Jubilee ) in Amritsar and Victoria Terminal in Bombay which remind us the cruelity which faced generations and wiped the creaters of Jugni.

We don't find any information about the family or siblings of this pair of singers. Neither of them got married in their life time. In 1906 both of them were around the age of 50. Punjab and Punjabis have yet to thank these two greats, next year at the time of century we have a chance to do something important in their memory.