Dulla Bhatti – a Muslim landlord who fought for the honour of Brahmin girls, saving them from the mighty Mughal emperor Akbar who wanted them in his harem. Songs of his bravery of are sung by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike on Lohri, a festival which celebrates the end of winter season.
A popular folk song sung on Lohri “Sunder mundriye ho” depicts the story of Sundri and Mundri, two Brahmin girls who were rescued by Dulla Bhatti. Later he became their godfather and married them off with much fanfare on the day of Lohri.
The song goes as below,
Sunder mundriye hoe!
Tera kaun vicharaa hoe!
Dullah Bhatti walla hoe!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae hoe!
Sunder mundriye hoe!
Who will think about you
Dulla of the Bhatti clan will
The Dulla married off his daughter.”
Dulla Bhatti was born in Punjab region of medieval India as Abdullah Bhatti in a Muslim Rajput family of the zamindar class.
His grandfather Sandal Bhatti and father Farid Bhatti had fought the mighty Mughal Empire, opposing the taxation system introduced by Akbar and crafted by the emperor’s finance minister, Todar Mal. Mughal Army crushed their rebellion, later they were captured and executed. Dulla was born to Ladhi four months after the death of his father.
Some claimed he was born on the same day as Prince Salim, the oldest son of Akbar. The story goes that soothsayers told the emperor that Salim would grow to be a brave and strong man, worthy of his father’s throne, if he were fed by a Rajput woman who had given birth to a child on the same day the prince was born. Ladhi, Dulla Bhatti’s mother, was identified as that woman and she raised Dulla Bhatti and Salim in the same household.
Many, who believe above apocryphal tale as true, classify this move of Akbar as a political manoeuvre to win over the rebellious chieftain family of Pindi Bhattian.
Her mother did not tell Dulla about the rebellion of his ancestors and locked away their weapons in a room. Dulla Bhatti was mocked by a village woman when he broke her pitcher with his slingshot, the woman asked him to show his bravery by avenging the deaths of his grandfather and father and not on defenseless pitchers.
Dulla Bhatti then opened the secret room full of weapons and distributed among his friends and followers. Thus began the legendary rebellion of Dulla Bhatti against Akbar, the mightiest Mughal emperor, songs of which were to be sung by bards for centuries to come.
The end for Bhatti came in 1599 when he was hanged in Lahore. Shah Hussain, a contemporary Sufi poet who wrote of him, recorded his last words as being “No honourable son of Punjab will ever sell the soil of Punjab”.