Who Killed Jugni? Shiraz Hassan

Guest post by SHIRAZ HASSAN

It was many summers ago. I was visiting my village on the banks of the Jhelum. I saw the people of my village go towards the Eidgah, across the chappaD, or the pond. When I asked my grandfather about them, he said. “Ajj mela ay putter!” [Son, today is a fair!] The mela ground was bustling with makeshift shops and people thronging them. At one end of the mela a circus had come up. The mithai stalls were packed with customers and curious on-lookers, some of them were buying and eating. And that’s when I heard the sound of their music. There they were, surrounded by a circle of spectators. A couple of local artists sang a song I had not heard before. I couldn’t understand a word, other than ‘O mereya Jugni, O mereya Jugni’ – which they chorused, over and over again.

That was my introduction to Jugni. I had no idea who Jugni was, and for I long time I didn’t care.

Jugni returned to my life years later, making an entry in a different way. On a satellite TV channel, in a dimly lit studio, equipped heavily with musical instruments and a pungent smell of glamour. Arif Lohar was singing Jugni for Coke Studio and giving him company was Meesha Shafi!

This time, I wanted to know Jugni. Was it a character from a story? A glow-worm? Or something else?

‘Jugni’ is a Punjabi folk song, popular not only in the Punjab but also among the regional languages of Rajputana, Sindh and Hyderabad [1]. But Jugni has also been said to be a kind of jewel, an attractive ornament worn around the neck, a little like the ‘taweetri’. Worn alike by men and women, Jugni the ornament is usually made of gold or silver. The wooden jugni is also used as decorative jewellery for cows and buffaloes. This cow-Jugni is known as ‘gaani’. Along with other neck jewellery like necklaces, lockets, maalas, gaani, taweet or tweetri, Jugni is a hot favorite item of fashion among rural girls and boys.

The Pothohari Urdu Dictionary compiled by Mohammad Sharif Shad describes Jugni as a famous folk song. The Vanguard Punjabi-English Dictionary says: “An ornament or jewel worn by the women round the neck, a kind of a song”. John T. Platts’s Classical Hindi and English Dictionary defines Jugni in these words: “A fire-fly, a glow-worm, an ornament worn by the women around the neck”. Here it is also assumed that Jugni is the female of ‘Jugnu’ [glow-worm]. But according to the Punjabi-Urdu Dictionary compiled by Tanveer Bukhari, “Jugni is not only a neck jewel or glow-worm, it is also a genre of Punjabi (folk) poetry, used as the symbol of love or the lover(s), a voice of the heart, and the highest level of love, i.e., ishq.”

Noted Punjabi researcher Jamil Paal agrees that Jugni is a character of folklore. Jugni is much more than a folk song; it is also a folk-tale of love and separation. The story so goes that a young girl of the Punjab was in love, but destiny separated her from her beloved, who disappeared. In search of her lost love, the girl left her home and went around from village to village, thus becoming a ‘Jogan’. Sadly, She never found him, and wild with grief, she passed away. The force of popular belief transformed a ‘mutyaar’ (young girl) to Jogan and from Jogan to Jugni. That is why the fame of Jugni transcends geographies – from the high mountains of Kashmir to the deserts of Cholistan. [2] Whenever and wherever Jugni is performed, the singer has this folk tale in his subconscious. Jugni is a symbol of exploration and the search for truth.

When a Jugni is sung, the listener cannot help think of the story of the Jogan. That is why in these songs, Jugni is disguised as a Jogan, looking for her beloved. However, the term “beloved” should not be taken in its traditional sense. The beloved could be ‘Sanwal’ [lover], a soldier, a guru or God.

Much of the early Jugni writing is spiritual in nature and is about understanding the world and one’s relationship with God. Many poet-philosophers have taken the Jugni approach to appeal to the masses, in order to make social, political, philosophical and often subtly subversive commentary.

Jugni is multi-religious. Depending on the writer, invokes the name of God (often using the word “Saaiyn”, Punjabi word for Lord) or the Gurus. A kernel of truth is an essential and integral part of every Jugni composition. Such is the popularity of Jugni that even the lower and working classes used it as an expression of catharsis and a source of entertainment. Jugni as a folk song has been sung and written in different forms, from the praise of God or Gurus to satire.

The folk-song Jugni covers almost all aspects of life. A Jugni written on the Humd (praise of God in poetic form), Naat (praise of Prophet Muhammed in poetic form) and Munqabat (poems written in praise of the Prophet’s family, usually associated with Hazrat Ali) are quite common. However, ‘being together’ and more popularly the “separation” of lovers are the most common subjects of the Jugni form.

Jugni can be funny and humorous. One can come across a Jugni celebrating a season, or a Jugni for crops-related festivals. Sometimes one may find a few innuendos thrown in as well.


On 9 July 1857, rebel soldiers went from Jhelum to Sialkot, destroying Sialkot Cantonment and moving forward towards Gurdaspur, fighting on the bank of the river against General Nicholson’s army. Moving towards Pasrur and Narowal they crossed “Bastar” and finally reached Noor-Kot. This is where the British army surrounded them from all sides and the last battle took place between them near Kot NainaaN on the left side of river Ravi.

The oldest surviving Jugni poem is about the 1857 rebellion [8]. The stream called ‘Bastar’ in this Jugni still flows near Narowal and falls in River Ravi near ‘Jastar’. Today, Jugni has crossed many more streams and rivers, living in the hearts of people across borders and boundaries. Here are the few verses from the Jugni of Gadar:

Meri jugni da dhaaga ik
ais ney phaDh layii hath vich itt
maarey wereyaan sey sar khichh
O bhai mereya jugni o!
O sher mereya jugni o!

Meri jugni dey dhaagey do
saadey seenay andar lo
hunn jo hoye so ho
O bhai mereya jugni o!
O sher mereya jugni o!

Meri jugni dey dhaagey tin
tuun gorey ley hunn gin
naaley haarH tey naaley sin
O bhai mereya jugni o!
O sher mereya jugni o!

Meri jugni dey dhaagey chaar
farangi nahin kissey dey yaar
aes nu khichh key neeza maar
O bhai mereya jugni o!
O sher mereya jugni o!

Meri jugni dey dhaagey punj
gorey gaye bister lungh
saadi sadaa hoye gi jung
O bhai mereya jugni o!
O sher mereya jugni o!

Jugni poems often describe socio-economic differences between classes, highlighting social issues and causes. For example, this Jugni tells the story of Nuhaadu, who eats food and Buhaadu who just looks towards food: It is written in Pothowari, where MahaaDI means ‘my’:

MahaaDi jugni jandi dandey dandey
Sirr bhanwein kaleja khambey khambey
kufaar rizq roti mangey mangey
chan maharDya jugni leeraan ni
asaan madad punjaan peeraan ni

Jugni ja waDi ay kakkey
othey daal ty phulka pakkey
Nahaadu khaawey tey Bahaadu takkey
Mahiya mereya jugni kookni aa
baaghaan tey nibbu choopni aa

Jugni is also written as satire. For example:

Jugni jaa waDi madrassay
‘muNDe chukk kataabaaN nasse’

Munshi raah vich tanbaa kassay
O veer mereya jigni o!
Jugni jaa waDi si Rohi
JuttaaN phaD suhaagay joi
othey ro ro kamli hoi
O veer mereya jugni o!

Jugni jaa waDi phadHaney
adhay ganjey andhay kaaney
sirroon nangey pairoon langHaaney
saayn mereya jugni aDey paii
dehooN chaDey tey kalma paDey paii

Here is a Jugni about Hazrat Ali [3] written by Manzoor Jhalla. In this Jugni, the poet praises Hazrat Ali and his family members:

Meri Jugni di faryaad
kardi paak nabi nuun yaad
shala nagar rahay aabaad
karsi roz-e-mehshar imdaad
O peer mereya jugni kehndi ay
JeDi naam Ali da laindi ay

Meri jugni dey dhaagey punj
Bibi Fatima[4] dey farzand
jehnaaN Karbal keeti jang
dushmanaaN paani keetey band
O peer mereya jugni kehndi ay

meri jugni di taqdeer
khanjar thallay peer Shabeer[5]
Shaami Koofi maaran teer
khemey vich bethey humsheer
O peer mereya jugni kehndi ay

One of the most famous Jugni songs was written by Haji Chiragh Din Jonekeywala. It was titled “Muhammadi Jugni”. Here are few lines from it:

Kya sohni jugni aeh jag tuuN niraali
Rab ney banaya tainuuN umtaaN da waali
tere dar tuuN muDey nah koi khaali
kaali kambli tey soorat muzammali
nah jaye sathooN sumbhli
Nabi ji mere jugni, Nabi ji meri jugni

The singularly most famous Jugni was written by Hashmat Shah. The title ofHashmat Shah’s Jugni is Nabi di Jugni. It is written in the style of a Naat.

Jugni rooh qalboot di joDi
paai Alif tey Meem maroDi
likhi qalam na jaavey moDi
rakh pair apney tey dori
jais dum ishq ney hasti joDi
jugni peer di joDi
O peer mereya jugni kehndi ay
jehDi naam Nabi da laindi ay

Meri jugni dey dhaagey kaalay
tere sadqay Yasrab walay
Amna Maai [6] dey chand ujaalay
Maai Halima [7] dey naazein paalay
Aasi ummat day rakhwalay
Pak Nabi bholay bhaalay
noori saanchey day vich Dhaalay
noori jhalak tor nuuN jaalay
O peer mereya jugni kehndi aey
jehDi naam Nabi da leini aey

Among the popular singers of Jugni, folk singer Buddha Sheikh is considered to be the most famous. He usually starts singing thus:

O dittya teri jugni
saayn bohD walya teri jugni
bhai sooraaN walya teri jugni
meri jugni day dhaagay pakkay
jugni ohday muhooN phabbay
O dittya meri jugni

Following Buddha Sheikh, Alam Lohar gained fame by singing Jugni. Manzoor Jhalla, Ahmed Din and Aashiq Jutt are some of the other well-known (contemporary) singers of Jugni.

As Jugnis are written on almost every aspect of life, Pakistani poets also wrote Jugnis on the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971. However, these Jugnis did not get as much public acclaim as the ones written before Partition, which didn’t highlight religious or sectarian differences, focusing instead on social evils or class differences. Many popular war songs on those two wars are sung even today, but no one remembers the war jugnis. Here is an example of one such jugni on Indo-Pak war, written by Rasheed Anwar [9].

Veer mereya O Jugni kehndi aey
Baii naam Ali da laindi aey

Jugni diyaan uchiyaan shaanaan nay.n
Garh jitya sher jawaanaan nay.n
Paye gjday vich maidaanaan nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni dey dhaagay kassay nay.n
Ajj dushman veri nassay nay.n
Ajj johar ghaziyaan dassay nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni tuun sabhay thallay oye
Merey ghazi jang tay challay oye
Ajj kehRa veri Thallay oye

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni nuun khairaan sattay nay.n
Hunn dushman charh gaye hathay nay.n
Hunn pharH ke beh gaye mathay nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni diyaan gallaan sachiyaan nay.n
Ghazi diyaan shanaan uchiyaan nay.n
BaazaaN nay chiRyaan buchiyaan nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Eh Jugni Pakistan di aey
Eh rajj ke mojaan maan di aey
Eh haami pak Quran di aey

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Eh Jugni lakh crore di aey
Eh dushman da sirr torr di aey
Kaafir da beda bod di aey

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Meri jugni da Ram wali aey
Momin di shaan niraali aey
Jing ditti tay shaam lajj-paali aey

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Meri jugni aas umeedaan di
Eh sathi sadaa shaheedaan di
Eh dushman sadaa Yazeedaan di

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni dey dhaagay baggay nay.n
Ajj dushman aggay laggay nay.n
Jeewein vich Punjabi Dhhagay nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Jugni niin Ran diyaan rakkhaan nay.n
Azmaya veriyaan lakhaan nay.n
Kieh khona aey saaDa kakhhaaN nay.n

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey

Aey Jugni Pakistani aey
Dunya nay ajj pachhaani aey
“Anwar” dey dil di jaani aey

Veer mereya O jugni kehndi aey


The Jugnis that we get to hear these days (from Coke Studio or Bollywood) is far from the original form. The idea of Jugni was one of love, peace and humanity, resistance against oppression and deploring violence. It made people laugh and smile, briefly forget their realities. It was one of the best forms of self-exploration… once upon a time. Alas, the Jugni of the traditional folk singers has died a sorry death. Somewhere along the way, Jugni lost its message. We have lost our traditions and we can’t blame anyone but ourselves for it. We have murdered Jugni with our very own hands.

(Shiraz Hassan is a journalist with the Urdu-language Daily Waqt in Lahore.)



[1] Bann PhulwaDi, an essay by Afzal Pervez in the book Saanjh Vichaar compiled by Saeed Bhutta.
[2] ‘Jungni’ by Salim Khan Gami in Saanjh Vichaar.
[3] Forth Caliph of Islam according to Sunni (Islam) belief, Son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.
[4] Daughter of Prophet Muhammad and wife of Ali.
[5] Grandson of Prophet Muhammad. He was murdered along with his 72 followers and family members in battle of Karbala.
[6] Mother of Prophet Muhammad.
[7] Wet-nurse, she raised Prophet Muhammad.
[8] Bann PhulwaDi by Afzal Pervez in Saanjh Vichaar
[9]  From Jangoon ki Urdu Shayri pe Asaraat: Thesis work by Qasim Yaqoob.

This article follows upon two earlier posts on ‘Jugni’ in Kafila:

If you can translate from Punjabi to English, we would be grateful to you if you could do so for the Jugnis above. Please submit your translations as comments below.

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27 thoughts on “Who Killed Jugni? Shiraz Hassan”

  1. Translation of first Jugni (Meri jugni da dhaaga ik, ais ney phaDh layii hath vich itt )

    My Jugni has one strand
    she took a brick in her hand
    and hits the enemy head with a bang
    o my brother Jugni is such
    o my lion Jugni is such

    My Jugni has two strands
    we have fire in our bellies
    whatever happens next who cares
    o my brother Jugni is such
    o my lion Jugni is such

    My Jugni has three strands
    must count the number of whites
    be it winter,be it summmers
    o my brother Jugni is such
    o my lion Jugni is such

    My Jugni has four strands
    British are no one’s friend
    they must be taught a lesson with spears
    o my brother Jugni is such
    o my lion Jugni is such

    My Jugni has five strands
    whites have crossed their limits
    we will be at war with them always
    o my brother Jugni is such
    o my lion Jugni is such



  2. Second one ( Original in Pothohari) :

    My Jugni walks along the narrow path
    even if the body and soul are in shock
    livelhood needs to have food
    oh my moonshine, Jugni is of rags
    i have got the support of Five Pirs

    Jugni reached the city of kakka
    food was being cooked there
    the mighty eats up, and improvished looks on
    my dear, Jugni wails
    lives on lemon fruit of the orchids


  3. Translation of third one (satirical):
    Jugni went to ‘Madrassa’
    boys took the books and ran amok

    the teacher clutches the books in the way
    o my brother Jugni is such
    Jugni went to deserted land
    she tried to cultivate it by hand
    but, ultimately, she cried in wilderness
    o my brother Jugni is such

    Jugni went to phadaane
    half were bald, the other half blind
    bares heads, and lame legs
    oh my savior, Jugni was stuck
    with the daybreak, she took to reading ‘kalmaa’


  4. I love Jugni in all her multiple avatars. And thank you, Shiraz and Jasdeep, for sharing some of her different songs. I hope those responsible for killing Jugni will brought to book soon. Even though I suspect the guilty parties include all of us and our cynicism vis a vis the “other” in post-1947 South Asia.


  5. Wonderful research work ! Couldnt follow the language but the commentary was very helpful.
    It reminds me of many sufi singers and Lalan Fakir of Bengal who sang with almost equal emphasis on social anf political issues . Thanks to Anisha and Shiraj


  6. Loved this piece. The concluding part of the write up reminded me of this line from Anurag Kashyap’s brilliant film Gulal: ‘…Jugni naache chunar odhe khoon nahaayi re’. This is one of my favourite Jugni lines. Its so haunting.


  7. lovely piece. what a nice contribution to this ongoing conversation!
    though i would argue that jugni is not dead, but lives in many incarnations.


  8. Rabbi wrote a song called Jugni.

    Jugni dekhan chali desh….
    Jide janmay si kadi ved…
    jidon kadyaa si angrez…
    Ki banyaa usdaa….
    Ki banyaa usdaa haal….
    kede kite usne kamaal…

    vir meryaa ve jugni….
    vir meryaa ve jugni kehndi aa….
    ek raah nawe aaj pandi hain..

    …Agressive speech about killing in Kashmir by someone

    Jugni jaa wadi kashmir ….
    jithe roz maran das vee..
    soni behnaa te sone veer..
    oooo ro ro poochna..
    ke jaghda tayi mukhnna…
    jedo jhelum paani sukhnaa

    vir meryaa ve jugni….
    vir meryaa ve jugni kehndi aa….
    ek neer nawe aaj behndi hain..

    …A punjabi news item….in background

    jugni jaa wadi punjab….
    jithe padhe likhe bekaar…
    bech zameenaa jaawen baahar…
    uthe maaran jaadho….
    uthe gori lain vewha..
    peeche tabar take raah..

    vir meryaa ve jugni….
    vir meryaa ve jugni kehndi aa….
    ek nayi udhari lendi aa….

    …Background….a talk between match fixers..about satta..

    Jugni jaa wadi bambai..
    jithe sonda koi nahi…
    sab labban cheez koi ….
    kis kise noooo labbe…
    jeno labbe woh bechain….
    mathe matke uske pain…???

    vir meryaa ve jugni….
    vir meryaa ve jugni kehndi aa….
    ek sah safar daa lendi aa….

    …News item in background

    jugni jaa wadi aaj dilli,,,,
    uthe bheed ch ral ki bhuli..
    kitho aayi teh kithe chali…
    sab basar gaya…
    jeddon aaya usno cheta…
    taaki mukhea thaa usdaa belaaa….

    vir meryaa ve jugni….
    vir meryaa ve jugni kehndi aa….
    aaj naam guraa daan lehendi aa…….


  9. Fantastic piece and what a great, well-researched contribution to an ongoing discussion. And great translations by Jasdeep too as always. Loved reading it.


  10. Translation of Jugni no. 4

    My Jugni laments
    for Prophet ‘Nabi’, she yearns
    wish the city well abides
    On the Day of Judgment she will request
    O my Pir, Jugni speaks
    the name of Ali, she calls

    My Jugni has five strands
    Bibi Fatima’s Son
    who fought in Karbala
    the enemy cut of them off from water
    O my Pir, Jugni speaks

    My Jugni has such destiny
    Pir Shabeer is under knives
    Syrians and Koofi [people of Koofa(Iraq)] are attacking with arrows
    in the camp sister waits
    O my Pir, Jugni speaks


    Translation of Jugni No. 5

    how beautiful the Jugni is, out of this world
    God has chosen you as guard of humanity
    no one shall go empty-handed from your door
    black Shawl and Muzammali face
    we cant tolerate
    O Prohpet Nabi, my Jugni, O Prophet Nabi, My Jugni
    *Muzammal is the nick name of Prophet, It means (The Wrapped One)


    Translation of Jugni no. 6

    Jugni is pair of body and soul
    Alif(for Allah almighty) and Meem(for my self) have ben twisted
    written ink can’t be erased
    count on your Peer
    with whom being has paired love
    Jugni and Peer are a pair
    O Peer the Jugni speaks
    It recites the name of Prophet Nabi

    My Jugni has black strands
    I admire you Yasrab
    Mother Amna’s moon shine
    Mother Halima’s nurtured sweetheart
    saviour of the world
    O Holy Prophet Nabi
    you are created by divine structure
    divine appearence enlightens
    O Peer the Jugni speaks
    It recites the name of Prophet Nabi


    Translation of Jugni no. 7
    o ‘Ditta’ your Jugni
    o ‘saeen’ of the Banyan tree your Jugni
    o ‘bhaee sooraan’ your Jugni
    My Jugni’s strands are tough
    Jugni sound good from that mouth
    o ‘Ditta’ my Jugni

    Translation of Jugni no 8 ( on Indo-Pak War )

    O my brother Jugni speaks
    Ali’s name she recites

    Jugni has got high accolades
    soldiers have won in the battlefields
    are roaring in the feilds

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Jugni has tightened the strands
    the enemy has fled away
    mighty have shown their skills

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Everybody lags behind the Jugni
    my mighty are on the war path
    which enemy would be beaten to dust today

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Jugni has all the seven blessings
    the enemy has been caught hold off
    they are realizing there loss

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Jugni speaks the truth
    Mighty has high accolades
    the hawks have caught the sparrows

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    this Jugni is Pakistan’s
    it indulges in heavenly pleaures
    its follower of the Holy Quran

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    this Jugni is of million, billions
    it destroys the arrogance of enemy
    it drowns the ship of infidels

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Ram is My Jugni’s saviour
    Momin has such splendor
    victorious in the day and modest in the evening

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    This Jugni is of hight hopes
    Its friend forever of the martyrs
    Its foe forever of the evils

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Jugni has white strands
    Enemey are runnig amok
    as in Punjabi, the ‘dhaggas’ go

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    Jugni is blessed to win in battlefields
    Many enemies have tried
    how can these miniscule beings challenge us

    O my brother Jugni speaks

    this Jugni is Pakistani
    world has reckoned it today
    ‘Anwar’ ‘s sweetheart it is


    Thanks to Shiraz for inputs



  11. Thanks to this discussion and Indu Vashisht’s older piece, I have had an extremely enjoyable Jugni, fabulous music and lyrics filled, morning. I am inclined to agree with Indu that Jugni is not dead just finding new articulations.

    Found another Jugni video recording from Coke Studio. The lyrics are extremely fascinating. They are more faith based than any other Jugni I have heard. Wonder what all of you make of them?

    Here is the link:


  12. An Islamised ‘Pakistani-ised’ Jugni, then?

    (The non-believer in me means no disrespect to Islam, anymore than it may or may not to another religion or faith)


  13. i never heard Jugni before this song ‘Jugni’ sung for the film track of ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’…and I thought Jugni was some Punjabi folk tale girl like Heer Ranjha, etc…i got facinated to the word ‘Jugni’ for weeks some time back..


  14. You never fail to impress me Shiraz. This is one of the best researched paper on the origins of Jugni. The folk song I learnt in my school days at Amritsar, is a popular Bollywood song these days. Like you said, the original Jugni has been murdered.

    And a special mention to Jasdeep. you rock man..


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