Punjab (the land of five rivers) is the biggest land area of Pakistan and is popularly known for its culture. It shares most of its cultural and carnival values with Indian culture. According to population, 56% of the total population of the country is situated in Punjab Province. It has a total of 36 districts and contributes approximately 50-60 % of the economy.
Punjabi Culture is one of the oldest in world history, dating from ancient antiquity to the modern era. The scope, history, complexity and density of the culture are vast. Some of the main areas of the Punjabi culture include: Punjabi cuisine, philosophy, poetry, artistry, music, architecture, traditions and values and history. Some cities of Punjab have more importance for Sikh community from India. The founder of Sikh religion was born in Nankana Sahib, a district of Punjab so Sikh from different parts of world come and visits Punjab. Jahngir tomb and Badshahi Masjid in Lahore are the important places of Pakistan. Data Sahib is very scared place in Punjab and most of the people come and visit Data sahib every year.
Punjabi people are very warm hearted and fun loving. Punjabis are heterogeneous group comprising of different tribes, clans, communities and are known to celebrate each and every tradition of their culture. People of Punjab have strong beliefs on pir-faqeers, jogi, taweez, manat-ka-dhaga, saint of repute, black magic, and other superstitions, however recently due to increase of literacy, people have become somewhat rational . Punjabis also believe in cast system but as now people are getting educated, the differences are getting blurred. Some popular casts of Punjabi’s are; Jats, Maliks, Mughals, Arains, Gujjars, Awans, Rajputs, Gakhars, Khokhars, Sheikhs, Aheers, Kambohs, Niazis, Legharis, Khosas, Dogars, Thaheem, Mirani, Qureshis, and Syeds.
In villages’ people usually live in small communities (biradaris), however they live in peace and harmony with each other. They take active part in the happiness/grieve of each other and give a great deal of respect to their culture, norms and run their lives according to their set traditions. Punjabi people are famous for their hospitable and loving nature.
Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab. It is spoken as the first language by majority people in Punjab, even spoken and understood in areas beyond the confines of Punjab. Facts and figures show that Punjabi language is spoken as first language by 44% of Pakistanis. Urdu language is also commonly spoken in this region. Key Punjabi languages/dialects are:
Costumes of Punjabare an indication of the bright and vibrant culture and lifestyle of the people.
The costumes are a mix of colours, comfort and beauty and Punjab is well known for the use of phulkari(embroidery) in its costumes. In most of the villages of Punjab men wear Pagri(turban), dhoti/lacha, kurta, khusa. Women wear gharara, or choridar pajama or colorful shalwar kameez, paranda, choli/duppata, khusa, kola puri chappal or tillay wali jutti. Whereas in urban areas of Punjab men and women follow latest trends and fashion, generally they wear different styles of shalwar kameez.
The extensive cuisine of Punjab can be vegetarian and non-vegetarian. One commonality between all Punjabi dishes is the liberal usage of ghee or clarified butter spices and Punjabis are fond of sweet-meats also. Most Punjabi food is eaten with either rice or roti. There are some dishes that are exclusive to Punjab such as Mah Di Dal, Paratha, Makai ki rotti, Saron Da Saag, and in cities Choley, Haleem, Baryani and other spicy dishes are popular. In beverages, tea is consumed in all seasons and as a custom most of Punjabis serve tea to their guests. Punjabis are also fond of Zarda, Gulab-Jamuns, Kheer, Jalaibi,Samosy, Pakorey etc. During summers people drink lassi, doodh-soda, aloo bokharey ka sharbat, lemonade etc. These cuisines have become world-wide delicacies with large scale representation.
Punjabi people have fanatical interest in sports. Punjabi’s are fond of kabaddi, and wrestling, which is also popular in other parts of Pakistan and it’s also played on national level. Other games being played in Punjab region include Gilli-Danda, Khoo-Khoo, Yassu-Panju, Pitho-Garam, Ludo, Chuppan-Chupai, Baraf-Panni, Kanchy and some major sports include cricket, boxing, horse-racing, hockey and football. National Horse and Cattle Show at Lahore is the biggest festival where sports, exhibitions, and livestock competitions are held.
There are numerous festivals which are celebrated by Punjabi people including some religious festivals such as Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi, Jumu’ah, Laylat-ul-Qadr etc. Urcs (devotional fairs),which are held at the shirnes of sufi saints, Melas and Nomaish (exhibitions).The Provincial capital Lahore is widely popular for its entertaining events and activities. Lahori’s are famous all over the country for their celebrations particularly for Basant festival (kite flying) in the spring season. Other festivals celebrated in Punjab region include Baisakhi, Teej, Kanak Katai etc.
Dance and Music
Bhangra is most commonly known Punjabi music genre and dance style. Punjabis passionately love folk songs/music, Qawali and Punjabi music is recognized throughout the world. The Tabla, Dhol, Dholki, Chimta, Flute and Sitar are all common instruments of this delightful culture. Punjabi dance is based around happiness, energy and enthusiasm.Different forms of dance in Punjab are: Loddi, Dhamal, Sammi, Kikli, Gatka, Bhangra, Giddha and Dandiya. Punjabi dances have been embraced by the American culture and others alike and now they are one of the most appreciated art forms.
Custums and Rituals
Some of the customs followed in Punjab have no foundation in Islam. However, the Punjabi culture has adopted those ceremonies and traditions from Hindu culture.
Punjabis celebrate birth of their child with great enthusiasm. Grandfather or grandmother or some respected elder member from the family puts honey with their index finger in child’s mouth called Ghutii. Sweets are distributed among friends and relatives and people bring gifts for the child and mother. Generally on 7thday child’s head is shaven and Aqiqa ceremony is held, also sheep/goat is slaughtered.
Punjabi weddings are based on traditions and are conducted with strong reflection of the Punjabi culture followed by several pre-wedding customs and rituals (dholki,mayun,ubtan etc.)Punjabi weddings are very loud, energetic, full of music,colors, fancy-dresses, food and dancing. Punjabi weddings have many customs and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times. In cities the wedding are celebrated following a blend of modern and traditional customs and the ceremony generally lasts for 3days, Mehndi, Barat (Nikkah+Ruksati) and Walima, followed by Chauti (bringing the bride back to her parents’ home the next day).
At funerals after namaz-e-janaza it is customary to offer lunch to people who came for condolence. On 3rdday of the funeral, Qul is held and every following thursday the Quran is recited (jumah-e-raat) followed by prayers for deceased and after 40days the chaliswaan is held. After which the funeral is over. Some families observe anniversaries yearly (barsi).There is no formal dress code for Punjabi funerals however people mostly wear shalwar kameez and casual clothing is observed. Funerals of Shia families are more intense. Both men and women wear black shalwar-kameez and rigorous crying and screaming is a common occurrence at such funerals.
Punjab is very rich with literature and Sufis adds more in its literature. Punjabi poetry is renowned for its extremely deep meaning, beautiful and hopeful use of words. The large number of Punjabi poetry is being translated throughout the world into many languages. Some famous poets of Punjabi are Sultan Bahu, Mia Mohammad Baksh, Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Anwar Masood etc. Waris Shah, whose contribution to Punjabi literature is best-known for his seminal work in Heer Ranjha, known as Shakespeare of Punjabi language. Bulleh Shahwas a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and a philosopher. The verse from Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi. Some other popular folk tales of Punjab include Sassi-Punnu, Sohni Mahiwal etc. that are passing through generations.
Arts and Crafts
Punjab is the major manufacturing industry in Pakistan’s economy and here each art enjoys a place of its own. The main crafts created in the highlands and other rural areas of Punjab are basketry, pottery, which are famous for their modern and traditional designs all over the world and are included in the best formations of Punjabis. bone work, textile, cloth woven on handlooms with stunning prints is embroidered in the rural-areas and the weavers produce colorful cloths like cotton,silk etc. embroidery, weaving, carpets, stone craft, jewelry, metal work along with truck art and other wood works. The craft of Punjab is its fundamental soul and its craft create its entity.
The culture of the Punjab encompasses the spoken language, written literature, cuisine, science, technology, military warfare, architecture, traditions, values and history of the Punjabi people. The term 'Punjabi' can mean both a person who lives in Punjab and also a speaker of the Punjabi language. This name originates from the Persian language 'panj', (five), and 'ab', (water). Combined together the word becomes Panjab or Punjab-land of the five rivers. Indus River (the largest river in this five river system), and the five other rivers to the south eventually join Indus or merge into it later in the downstream of the Punjab valley. All the rivers start and flow out of the Himalayas. These other five rivers are Jhelum River, Chenab River, Ravi River, Beas River and Sutlej River.
The culture of Punjab in the Middle Ages was extremely diverse dependent upon an individual's caste, community, religion and village. An array of cultures can be found historically. The main cultures that arose in the Punjab during the Medieval Age at the beginning of this era was of strong Indo-Aryan dominance. The Brahmins and Khatris were once a singular group living in the Punjab who practiced Hinduism. They were descended from the Vedic people who brought Indo-European language and society to a land dominated by Dravidian history. Their culture was based on their religious beliefs, which could be described as identical to that of Hindus living across North India today. The second strongest emergent cultural identity was Jat and Gujjar culture, based on pastoralism, agriculture and ancestor worship, in modern Punjab. Most of the Western region are descended from Gujjars, whereas the Eastern region is ethnically Jat. Over centuries, Islamic traditions were incorporated into the lives of Punjabi Muslims. These people would often live together marrying others like them and the customs practised centuries ago are still visible in the way all the castes and religious groups live.
Due to the large number of Punjabi people distributed throughout the world, especially Pakistan and India, many people are increasingly experiencing the culture and becoming influenced by it. Glimpses of traditional Punjabi culture can be seen in the Western world (e.g. the U.S., the UK, the EU, Canada, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Naturally people influence each other wherever they settle and live. Punjabi culture is evident from Punjabi philosophy, poetry, spirituality, education, artistry, music, cuisine, and architecture in all the
Similar migrations by or invasions into the Punjab, in the past many centuries, were by the Aryans, Scythians, Greeks or Alexander the Great which reached as far as the Beas River in the Punjab, MongolsArabs, Persians, Afghans, Turko-Persians (Mughals) and then the Europeans (British) came to Punjab for various economic reasons of their own and its fertile agricultural lands and abundance of water resources in its five large rivers flowing down from the Himalayas through the Punjab valley. These immigrants influenced the people of Punjab and, in turn, were influenced by the then prevailing culture of the Punjab.
See also: Music of Punjab
Bhangra is one of the many Punjabi musical art forms that is increasingly listened to in the west and is becoming a mainstream favourite. Punjabi music is used by western musicians in many ways, such as mixing it with other compositions to produce award-winning music. In addition, Punjabi classical music is increasingly becoming popular in the west.
Devotional songs are played by dhaddi jatha groups, with instruments like sarangi and dhadd drums.
See also: Punjabi dance
Owing to the long history of the Punjabi culture and of the Punjabi people there are many dances, normally performed at times of celebration, including harvests, festivals, and weddings. The particular background of the dances can be non-religious and religious. The overall style can range from the high energy "bhangra" men's dance to the more reserved "jhumar," the "gidha" women's dance.
See also: Punjabi wedding traditions
Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Punjabi and are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture. While the actual religious marriage ceremony among Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians may be conducted in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Hindi or Pali by the Qazi, Pundit, Granthi or Priest, there are commonalities in ritual, song, dance, food, and dress. The Punjabi wedding has many rituals and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times.
See also: Punjabi cuisine
Punjabi language and literature
See also: Punjabi language
Punjabi language is written with the Gurmukhi alphabet in India. In Pakistan, the Punjabi language is written with the Shahmukhi alphabet which is similar to the Urdu language alphabet. Approximately 130 million people, mainly in Pakistan's West Punjab and India's East Punjab, speak the Punjabi language which is considered to be an Indo-Aryan language. In the Punjabi literature, there are three major Punjabi romantic epic poems based on folk love stories - Heer Ranjha by the poet Waris Shah (1722-1798), Sohni Mahiwal and Mirza Sahiban (sung by late Alam Lohar). The poetry gives a clear view into the Punjabi mindset. Many Punjabi language books are translated throughout the world into many other languages. Among the major Punjabi poets are Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar (1179-1266), Baba Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and Bulleh Shah (1680-1757). One of the most important Punjabi holy books is Guru Granth Sahib in the Sikh religion.
The traditional dress for Punjabi men is the kurta and tehmat, which is being replaced by the kurta and pajama, especially the popular muktsari style in India. The traditional dress for women is the salwar suit which replaced the traditional Punjabi ghagra. The patiala salwar is also very popular.
See also: Punjabi festivals, List of Sikh festivals, List of Hindu festivals in Punjab, and Festivals in Lahore
Punjabis celebrate cultural, seasonal and religious festivals, which include Maghi, Mela Chiraghan in Lahore, Lohri, Holi, Baisakhi, Teeyan, Diwali, Dussehra, and Guru Nanak Jayant.
- Wrestling in Punjab, documentary film on the history of wrestling in Punjab by filmmaker Simran Kaler.
- Quraishee 73, Punjabi Adab De Kahani, Abdul Hafeez Quaraihee, Azeez Book Depot, Lahore, 1973.
- Chopra 77, The Punjab as a sovereign state, Gulshan Lal Chopra, Al-Biruni, Lahore, 1977.
- Patwant Singh. 1999. The Sikhs. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50206-0.
- Nanak, Punjabi Documentary Film by Navalpreet Rangi
- The evolution of Heroic Tradition in Ancient Panjab, 1971, Buddha Parkash.
- Social and Political Movements in ancient Panjab, Delhi, 1962, Buddha Parkash.
- History of Porus, Patiala, Buddha Parkash.
- History of the Panjab, Patiala, 1976, Fauja Singh, L. M. Joshi (Ed).
- The Legacy of The Punjab by R. M. Chopra, 1997, Punjabee Bradree, Calcutta.