The Heartbreaking Father Son Story Behind Punjabi Song ‘Challa’

The famous Punjabi song ‘Challa’ is probably one of the most sung songs in Punjabi music history in the last several decades. The song was made famous in the mainstream after it was sung by Gurdas Mann, but it was sung long before by Pakistani singers. Despite the immense popularity of the song, most people have no idea that it’s based on a true story of a father and son.

Story of Challa:

The sad story of Challa is a father son story which originated in Harike Pattan, India. Every lyric of the song revolves around how a father lost his one and only son.

The father named Jhalla Mallah lived in Harike Pattan and he was blessed by a son whom he named Challa. When Challa was young his mother passed away and Jhalla was left alone to raise his son. Being the only son, Jhalla raised Challa with lot of love and care.

For a living, Jhalla transported passengers on a boat across the river Sutlej. He would often bring his son to work with him as there was no care taker of the child at home.

One day, Jhalla fell ill and he was unable to take the passengers across the river. The passengers became upset at him and asked for his son to drop them off at the other side of the river. At first, Jhalla hesitated and refused to let Challa go out by him self. After repeated requests, Jhalla agreed to send Challa with the passengers. Challa took the passengers but never returned back. The Sutlej river became ferocious and the boat capsized drowning everyone onboard. Several days passed, everyone of Harike Pattan looked for challa and the passengers but no trace was found. Week after week passed but Challa never returned back to Harike Pattan. Jhallah waited at the shore for over a month praying his son would one day return back to him.

The loss of the son caused Jhalla Malah to cause him great grief and impacted him mentally. Due to the extreme sadness and mental impact, Jhalla often sang on the shore calling for his son.

He would sing, “Challa Mudke Nahi Aya, Rona Umran Da Paya, Malleya Mulak Paraya.”

Jhalla would remember Challa’s mother and often thought that if she was alive he would’ve never taken his son with him to work everyday and his son would be alive today.

While he cried endlessly, he would sing,” Gal Sun Challeya Kaawan, MaawanThandian Chaawan.”

When Jhalla would splash the water, people around would ask, what he was looking for. Jhalla replied, ” Challa Nau-Nau Khewe, Puttar Mithde Mewe, Allah Sab Nu Dewe.”

When the day would turn dark, people asked Jhalla to return back home to which Jhalla replied, ” Challa Bedi Da Poor Oye, Watan Mahiye Da Door E, Oh Jaana Pehle Poor E. “

In these thoughts, Jhalla Mallah spent his life remembering his one and only son. Even to this day, in Harike Pattan Gujrat Pakistan, there exists a monument in his and his son’s honor.

Challa is actually the name of a

Here is a video on the incident:

Here is the song:

Original song Challa sung by Inayat Ali in 1977.

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