We all have been listening to Jugni-poetry or Jugni-music since our childhood. But who is this Jugni? A woman, an instrument or an ornament. In reality, we do not find any significant meaning or mention of Jugni in Punjab history or folk memories.
Basically, it is a mispronounced word by two illiterate singers of Punjab named Bishna Jatt and Manda Marassi. Both were from Majha region near Amritsar of earlier Punjab. They used to sing folk songs such as Mirza and Tappe with their classical instruments in local streets to earn their living.
Back in 1906, when they were in their 50s, British government took a flame in a big gold container across several countries and cities under the British rule to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. According to oral histories, it was ‘Jublie’ which illiterate Bishna and Manda pronounced as ‘Jugni’. The flame was taken to every district headquarter of states and district authorities were supposed to observe big ceremonies in the welcome of the torch. Bishna and Manda followed the flame and composed their own stanzas in the name of Jugni and started organising Akharas (shows) in these festivals. That is why, we usually find a city name in the beginning of the Jugni verses.
Jugni ja varhi Majithe
koi rann na chakki peethe
putt gabbru mulak vich maare
rovan akhiyan par bull si seete
piir mereya oye jugni ayi aa
ehne kehrhi jot jagayee aa
jugni ja varhi ludhiane
uhnu pe gye anne kaane
maarn mukkiyan mangan daane
piir mereya oye! jugni kehndi aa
jehrhi naam ali da lendi aa
Due to easy versification of Jugni verses these stanzas became popular in no time. In those days, although movement for freedom did not rise however there was deep anger in the mind of the masses against British rulers. People were poor and illiterate and were highly exploited by British government. Bishna and Manda started writing verses about this agony which channelized the rebel of the people against queen’s rule.
Growing popularity of this Jugni composition was unresting the British rulers. Consequently, they started banning their shows in the festivals but this could not stop them from performing stage shows. As a result, both the singers got arrested at Gujjaranwala and said to be tortured to death for inciting public against British rule.
Unfortunately, we do not find much about family background or siblings of two martyrs. It is believed that neither of them got married .But they have given a magical rebellious character of Jugni to the musical world which is the soul of folk songs. They are yet to be thanked as modern world do not really know the creation of Jugni and its creators.