Momal Rano (Sindhi: مومل راڻو) is a popular romantic tale of Momal and Rano from the Sindhi folklore. Momal Rano is a multifaceted story that reflects adventure, magic, schemes, beauty, love, ordeals of separation and above entire romantic tragedy. Momal Rano is believed to be one of the most famous folktales in Sindhi literature.
Historical context of Momal Rano
Momal Rano story is believed to have occurred in the geographical belts of Rajasthan, India as well as Sindh province, Pakistan. The belt that covers the geography of Rajasthan in relation to the story is Lodrawa or Lodhruva in Jaisalmer district; while the area in Sindh province is Momal Ji Maari (Momal’s Mansion) and her father’s house in Ghotki district of the province. The story appeared in the times of Hameer Soomro, the King of Umerkotor Amarkot (now a district in the south-east of Sindh province in Pakistan), possibly in the time period of mid-14th century.
The king of Umerkot, Hameer Soomoro, along with his ministers, Rano Mendhro, Seenharro Dhamachanni and Daunro Bhatyanni, used to go for hunting in the far flung places of Umerkot and sometimes could even cross the boundaries of their little country for this hunting adventure. Once during a hunting spree, these 4 men were encountered by an individual who came across them accidentally.
They didn’t reveal to the fellow who they were and what they did. But the fellow involved them in the story of what happened to him in the preceding days. He was a prince from the place near Kashmir, who had heard the legend of Momal’s beauty and got so impressed that he pursued the adventure, but when he approached the place where Momal lived, he wasn’t only overpowered by her beauty but also the tricks and schemes played by her female servants/sisters, who not just robbed that prince of his wealth and material but also so confused him in several puzzles that he could do nothing else but save his life and run.
The story told by this prince was enough to fascinate those 4 friends. They extracted data from the prince about Momal’s whereabouts and decided to pursue the similar adventure.
The place where Momal lived was near Lodhruva, in the north-east of Umerkot. She lived with her 7 (some historians say, nine) sisters involving two popular of them, Somal and Natir (some consider her to be Momal’s servant instead of sister) in a palace known as Kak Mahal (The Palace of Kak). It was a magical palace with labyrinths, puzzles, fake ponds, illusions and much more. It was a legend that anyone who needed to be a suitor for Momal would undergo various hurdles, and the one who succeeded in reaching the palace unharmed would possibly be accepted as her consort. As the history recommended, nearly everyone who approached Momal and her sisters/servants was robbed of everything involving their lives excluding a few like the prince from Kashmir who told the stories of his devastation.
Momal amused the legendary beauty. Somal was popular for intelligence; while Natir was known as a schemer. They worked collectively to enchant the suitors and overpower them. They couldn’t let the suitors experience a convenient task of puzzles they designed for them. As the luck would have it, Rano Mendhro, who was popularly intelligent and brave, was the mere person to successfully reach the palace, utterly unharmed. Momal was fairly inspired and that led him to be accepted as her consort. The King Hameer, along with other 2 ministers, left Rano Mendhro at Kak and left for Umerkot.
Rano and Momal kept meeting each other for long and their love story acquired profundity of feelings from both sides. Although, King Hameer felt jealous about Rano to have succeeded in overpowering the most attractive woman in the world he personally knew. So he kept a check on Rano and inquired him not to meet Momal. Rano being his minister had to abide by the orders of his King friend. But his love about Momal didn’t let him stay peacefully away from her. So normally he left for Ludhruva on his camel in the evening after work and came back to Umerkot by the next morning. Whenever he did that, which he did pretty mostly, he attempted to stealthily go and meet Momal, it was pretty long distance though. Somehow he was caught 1 day and the king imprisoned him. But for the old friendship sake the king released him with conditions not to meet Momal again. But this had not to happen. He continued the similar pursuit.
Once Rano was not able to reach Kak, so Momal, out of passion and extreme wait for her beloved, inquired her sister Somal to wear clothes like the ones Rano used to wear and slept by her side. The moment Rano arrived; he mistook Somal as Momal’s lover (paramour) and in utter disgust left the palace for Umerkot leaving behind his cane (walking stick). As Momal woke up, she observed his cane and realized Rano had been to her room and seen her with Somal, rather mistaken Somal to be some male, and perhaps gone for good. This was too much for her. Momal waited for his comeback but to no avail. At last, when the push comes to shove, she resorted to go out for Rano in the Umerkot. Disguised as a male, she ultimately searched him and stayed in Umerkot for few time. In a short span of time period, Rano came to learn it was Momal, who had disguised herself. So he tried to go away from her. Then she pleaded him to forgive her for her mistake, which was generally not an intentional trick but an outburst of passionate feelings about Rano, and nothing else. Rano was too obstinate to forgive her. Out of desperation, she jumped in raging fire. When Rano came to learn this, he followed her in the similar flames and got consumed by the same.