Punjabi culture

Punjabi culture, like most other world cultures, 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 that lives in Punjab and also a speaker of the Punjabi language. This name originates from the Persian language 'panj', (five), and 'ab', (river). Combined together the word becomes Panjab or Punjab-land of the five rivers. Indus River (the largest river in this 5 river system), and the five other rivers to the south that eventually all join it or merge into it later downstream in the Punjab valley. All the rivers start and flow out of the Himalayas. These other 5 rivers are Jhelum River, Chenab River, Ravi River, Beas River and Sutlej River.[1]

Middle Ages

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 practised Hinduism, they were descended from the Vedic people that 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-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. Islamic traditions were incorporated into Punjabi Muslim's lives, these people would often live together marrying others like them, Sikh traditions dominate Punjabi culture and the customs practised centuries ago are still visible in the way all the castes and religious groups live.

Modern Era

In the 20th century, majority of the people are Sikhs practicing Sikhism since 16th century, 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. U.S., UK, EU, Canada, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.[2] Naturally people influence each other wherever they settle and live. Punjabi culture is evident from Punjabi philosophy, poetry, spirituality, education, artistry, music, cuisine, architecture in all the above-mentioned countries.[2]

Similarly migrations by or invasions into the Punjab, in the past many centuries, were by the Aryans, Scythians, Greeks or Alexander the Great reached as far as the Ravi River in the Punjab. Arabs, Persians, Afghans, Mongols 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 5 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.[1]

Punjabi music

See also: Music of Punjab

Bhangra is one of the many Punjabi musical art forms that is increasingly being listened to in the west and is becoming a mainstream favourite. Punjabi music is being 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.

Punjabi dances

See also: Punjabi dance

Owing to the long history of the Punjabi culture and of the Punjabi people there is a large number of 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.

Punjabi Wedding

Punjabi people at a wedding

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, dress. The Punjabi wedding has many rituals and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times.

Punjabi cuisine

See also: Punjabi cuisine

Punjabi language and literature

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.[3] In the Punjabi literature, there are 3 major Punjabi romantic epic poems based on folk love stories-Heer Ranjha by the poet Waris Shah (1722-1798), Sohni Mahiwal and Mirza Sahiban.[1] The poetry gives a clear view into the Punjabi mindset. Many Punjabi language books are being 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 book is Guru Granth Sahib in the Sikh religion.

Punjabi dress

The traditional dress for Punjabi men is the Punjabi 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 Punjabi Salwar Suit which replaced the traditional Punjabi Ghagra. The Patiala salwar is also very popular.

Punjabi Festivals

Punjabis celebrate cultural, seasonal and religious festivals, which include Maghi, Mela Chiraghan in Lahore, Lohri, Holi, Baisakhi, Teeyan, Diwali, Dussehra, and Guru Nanak Jayant.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Punjabi.aspx, Punjab and Punjabi language on encyclopedia.com website, Retrieved 8 Aug 2016
  2. 1 2 http://newseastwest.com/how-punjabi-language-is-flourishing-in-france/, Retrieved 8 Aug 2016
  3. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/punjabi.htm, Punjabi language explained on omniglot.com website, Retrieved 8 Aug 2016

External links

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