Punjabi Culture

Punjab (Shahmukhī: پنجاب, panj-āb, “five waters”: Punjab. also spelled Panjab, is the most populous province of Pakistan, with approximately 55.06% of the country’s total population. Forming most of the Punjab region, the province is bordered by Kashmir (Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, India) to the north-east, the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat to the east, the Pakistani province of Sindh to the south, the province of Balochistan to the southwest, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, and the Islamabad Capital Territory to the north. The Punjab is home to the Punjabis and various other groups. The main languages are Punjabi and Saraiki and the dialects of Mewati and Potowari. The name Punjab derives from the Persian words Panj (پنج) (Five), and Āb (آب) (Water), i.e. (the) Five Waters – referring to five tributaries of the Indus River from which is also the origin of the name of “India” – these being Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, that flow through the larger Punjab. Punjab is the most developed, most populous, and most prosperous province of Pakistan. Lahore has traditionally been the capital of Punjab for a thousand years; it is Punjab’s main cultural, historical, administrative and economic center. Historically, the Punjab region has been the gateway to the Indian subcontinent for people from Greece, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan and Vice-versa. Due to its strategic location, it has been part of various empires and civilizations throughout history, including the Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic civilization, Mauryans, Kushans, Scythians, Guptas, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Timurids, Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and the British. The Greeks referred to Punjab as Pentapotamia, an inland delta of five converging rivers. In Avesta, the sacred text of Zoroastrians, the Punjab region is associated with the ancient hapta həndu or Sapta Sindhu, the Land of Seven Rivers. The British used to call Punjab “Our Prussia.”
Etymology
The word Punjab is a combination of the Persian words panj (five) and āb (water), thus the (land of) five rivers. The five rivers are the tributaries of the Indus River namely Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Sometimes, in English, there can be a definite article before the name i.e. the Punjab. The name is also sometimes spelt as Panjab or Panjaab or Punjaab. From the Himalayas they all end up in the down-stream of Panjnad, eventually to the Arabian Sea.
History
Ancient history Punjab during Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada. Punjab was part of the Indus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years old. The main site of the Indus Valley Civilization in Punjab was the city of Harrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilization. The arrival of the Indo-Aryans led to the flourishing of the Vedic civilization along the length of the Indus River. This civilization shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found. Punjab was part of the great ancient empires including the Gandhara Mahajanapadas, Achaemenids, Macedonians, Mauryas, Kushans, Guptas and Hindu Shahi. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Multan and Lahore) grew in wealth. Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and influence from the west. Invaded by the Persians, Greeks, Kushans, Scythians, Turks, and Afghans, Punjab witnessed centuries of bitter bloodshed. Its legacy is a unique culture that combines Zorastrian[citation needed], Hindu, Buddhist, Persian[citation needed], Central Asian[citation needed], Islamic, Afghan, Sikh, and British elements. The city of Taxila, founded by son of Taksh the son Bharat who was the brother of Ram. It was reputed to house the oldest university in the world[citation needed], Takshashila University, one of the teachers was the great Vedic thinker and politician Chanakya. Taxila was a great centre of learning and intellectual discussion during the Maurya Empire. It is a UN World Heritage site, valued for its archaeological and religious history
Greeks, Central Asians, and Persians
The northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent including Punjab was repeatedly conquered into various Persian, Central Asian, and Greek empires, such as those of Tamerlane, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Having conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Gedrosia and Seistan in ten days, Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush and was thus fully informed of the magnificence of the country and its riches in gold, gems and pearls. However, Alexander had to encounter and reduce the tribes on the border of Punjab before entering the luxuriant plains. Having taken a northeasterly direction, he marched against the Aspii, mountaineers, who offered vigorous resistance but were subdued. Alexander then marched through Ghazni, blockaded Magassa, and then marched to Ora and Bazira. Turning to the northeast, Alexander marched to Pucela, the capital of the district now known as Pakhli. He entered Western Punjab, where the ancient city of Nysa was situated. A coalition was formed against Alexander by the Cathians, the people of Multan, who were very skillful in war. Alexander invested heavy troops; eventually seventeen thousand Cathians fell in this battle, and the city of Sagala (present-day Sialkot) was razed to the ground. Alexander left Punjab in 326 B.C. and took his army to Persia and Susa. Of particular importance were the periods of contact between Punjab and various Persian Empires[citation needed] when the region either became a part of the empire itself[citation needed], or was an autonomous region which paid taxes to the Persian king. In later centuries, when Persian was the language of the Mughal government, Persian architecture, poetry, art and music were an integral part of the region’s culture. The official language of Punjab remained Persian until the arrival of the British in the mid-19th century, when the administrative language was changed to English. After 1947, Urdu, which is considered the poetic language of South Asia, which has a huge section of words derived from Persian, Arabic and to a lesser degree Turkish and with an indic base, became the newly formed Pakistan’s national language (Qaumi Zubaan.
Arrival of Islam – Punjabi Muslims
The Punjabis followed a diverse plethora of faiths, mainly comprising Hindus but with large minorities of Buddhists[citation needed], when the Muslim Umayyad army led by Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Southern Punjab in 712, by defeating Raja Dahir. The Umayyad Caliphate was the second Islamic caliphate established after the death of the Prophet Muhammad SAW . It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the city of Mecca, their capital was Damascus. Muhammad bin Qasim was the first to bring message of Islam to the population of Punjab. Over the next millennium Punjab was Muslim Empires consistenting of both Afghans, Pashtoon, and Turkic in corporation with local Punjabi tribes and others, which facilitated a millennium long Islamic dominance across South Asia and with its peak during large parts of the Mughal Empire . During the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni, the province became an important centre with Lahore as its second capital of the Ghaznavid Empire based out of Afghanistan.
Mughals
The Mughals controlled the region from 1524 until around 1739 and would also lavish the province with building projects such as the Shalimar Gardens and the Badshahi Mosque, both situated in Lahore. Muslim soldiers, traders, architects, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to the Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and some may have settled in the Punjab. Following the decline of the Mughals, the Shah of Iran and founder of the Afsharid dynasty in Persia, Nader Shah crossed the Indus and sacked the province in 1739. Later, the Afghan conqueror Ahmad Shah Durrani, incidentally born in Panjab, in the city of Multan made the Punjab a part of his Durrani Empire lasting until 1762.
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.

People
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.

Languages
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:
Pothowari
Hindko
Jhangvi
Shahpuri
Pahari
Majhi
Saraiki
 
Dresses
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.

Cuisine
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.

Sports
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.

Cultural Festivals
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.
 
Birth Rituals
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
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).
 
Funeral Rituals
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.
 
Literature
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.