NOORI JAM TAMACHI
History is full of examples of king’s abdicating their thrones in favour of commoners and even beggars. The first historical depiction of this is of King Cophetua of African origin who married a beggar maid by the name of Penelophon and lived happily ever after.
In the modern times it was King Edward the VIII of England who abdicated his throne to marry an American lady who was a commoner by name of Wallis Simpson. The history of Pakistan has one great folk lore of which very little is known to the public and is a classical example of divine love and that is NOORI JAM TAMACHI.
It was the night of 22nd January 2012 when I returned from Shah Jahan Mosque in THATTA and stayed at KEENJHAR LAKE RESORT for the night.
This is a fresh water lake about 20 miles in diameter which spreads from THATTA outskirts to JHIMPIR on the other side and from here the fresh water after filtration is supplied to Karachi. There are three lakes lying between Jherruk and Thatta, called the Keenjhar the Chholmari and Sonahri. After a sumptuous dinner at night sitting besides the bon fire I started writing my daily diary about the recent places visited when one of the hosts became curious as to what I was writing, so I told him that I am a travelogue writer trying to focus the attention of the people of Pakistan on the rich cultural heritage which we posses.
My host MUSA SARKI a young lad of 28 years then told me about the folk lore of NOORI JAM TAMACHI which caught my attention and I made up my mind to visit the grave of NOORI early next morning.
The grave of Noori Jam Tamachi lies in the centre of the lake and takes about 45 minutes motor boat ride to reach the sight which juts out like a sentinel above the water line.
NOORI the heroine of the famous SINDHI folklore NOORI JAM TAMAACHI has many variations of the story but none is authentic except that the grave of JAM TAMAACHI is in MAKLI graveyard in Thatta district one of the largest graveyards in the world.
Early morning when the rest of my hunting entourage was a sleep I coaxed the boatmen with much difficulty for an early ride to the center of the lake. As I was in a hurry to come back by 11 O’ Clock as my friends wanted an early start from this place so as to hit Multan by night fall.
Jam Tamachi was a prince, who ruled Thatta Sindh. A fisherman girl by the name of NOORI happened to attract the attention of Jam Tamachi, who madly fell in love with her and had her picked up by his henchmen and brought her to his palace giving her a preference over other ladies of high cast and royal blood.
NOORI was unhappy in the palace and longed for her family and small hut by the side of the river and used to lament over the loss of her relations and her surroundings in which she grew. As a result of her sulk and melancholia her health complexion and beauty began to fade and she fell ill. At this point Tamachi made a decision of letting NOORI go free and join her folks by the side of the river.
Tamachi’s love for NOORI was so great and intense that he rejected all the riches of the world and abdicated his Throne. Jam Tamachi picked up NOORI in his arms and left the palace without giving it a Second Look. It was only for NOORI that Jam Tamachi adopted a simpler way of life and changed into a Fisherman… NOORI Jam Tamachi lived a long & a Bliss Full Life, and Jam Tamachi never Regretted for his Final Achievement was Worth much more than his Throne………..
NOORI made Jam very happy with her perfect surrender and obedience and this is the only love folk lore story of fulfilled love and happiness, and not of burning love and helpless search.
NOORI JAM TAMACHI folk lore also features in Shah Jo Risalo (The Message of Shah) and is a beautiful rendering of poetic compendium of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. This also forms part of seven popular folk romances from Sindh. The other six tales are Umar Marvi, Sohni Mehar, Sassui Punhun, Momal Rano, Sorath Rai Diyach and Laila Chanesar commonly known as seven heroines of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.
This legend has been enumerated and narrated countless times, and is often used as metaphor for divine love by Sufis by this rendering Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai shows that humility is great thing, and is meant to raise the esteem of the common mortal in the eyes of the creator.
The heroines of Shah Abdul Latif's poetry are known as the seven queens of Sindhi folklore who have been given the status of royalty in Shah Jo Risalo. The Seven Queens are celebrated throughout Sindh for their positive qualities their honesty, integrity, piety and loyalty. They are also valued for their bravery and their willingness to risk their lives in the name of love. In his poetry Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai has explained in an elaborate way these characters of Sindhi folktales and used them as metaphors for high spiritual life.
Perhaps what Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai saw in his tales of these women was an idealized view of womanhood, but the truth remains that the Seven Queens inspired women all over Sindh to have the courage to choose love and freedom over tyranny and oppression. The lines from the Risalo describing their trials are sung at Sufi shrines all over Sindh, and especially at the urs of Shah Abdul Latif every year at Bhit Shah.
Shah Abdul Latif has hidden his mystical ideas under thick layers of various symbols taken from all spheres of life as well as from the classical sufi tradition and particularly from Maulana Rumi's Masnavi.
According to the legend, NOORI was buried in the middle of Kalri Lake, which is her last resting place and is visited by hundreds of tourists daily from all over Pakistan.
The lighter part of the story is that young boys and girls who are in courtship also make it a point to pray at the grave of NOORI for the accomplishment of their love and for a leading a Bliss full married life.
The apathy of the whole scenario is that the information about the folk lore of NOORI JAM TAMACHI is not written anywhere near the Kalinjer rest house or by the side of the river from where the boats depart to take the tourist to the middle of the lake to the grave of NOORI.
So next time you when you visit Karachi do take some time out to visit and pay homage to NOORI by visiting her grave and offering FATIHA and flowers.
Dr. Babur Zahiruddin