The Diaspora Punjabi.
A cluster of 10 Punjabi groups in different countries.
Punjabi of Bangladesh, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand.
The name "Punjabi" is used to describe both those who speak Punjabi, and those who inhabit the Punjab region (in India and Pakistan). Punjabi is an Indo-European language that is divided into six main dialects. It is primarily spoken in the major regions of India and Pakistan.
There are many different social classes and occupational sub-groups among the Punjabi. For this reason, it is difficult to adequately describe their lifestyle. Modern Punjabi culture was largely shaped by the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. This event resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.) The incorporation of new government policies also had far reaching effects on the lives of the Punjabi.
What are their lives like?
The caste system in India is not fully supported by religion, as it is specifically rejected by Islam and Sikhism. Most of the Diaspora Punjabi who are Hindu, are of the higher castes and are usually well educated. For this reason, they have easily assimilated into the various communities in which they now live.
The Punjabi immigrants have taken on a variety of occupations. Many of the Sikhs, who are characterized by their neatly wound turbans, have excelled as mechanics, construction workers, and business professionals. Other Punjabi have found work in retail and trade, particularly through small family businesses.
In traditional Punjabi culture, the men are responsible for overseeing the family possessions such as land, shops, or other business assets. The women are responsible for overseeing the homes. They cook, care for the children, manage the household finances, and take care of any domestic animals.
Whether Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, marriage is highly desired among all Punjabi. Traditionally, residences were patrilocal, which means that young couples lived in the husband's village near his parents. However, in most Diaspora Punjabi communities, this does not occur. Newly married couples set up their homes wherever they choose. Marriages can still be arranged by parents, but this is rarely done without extensive discussions.
Among the Punjabi, there is no overall system of social control. Instead, each institution (such as businesses, homes, civil administration, religious organizations, and political organizations) has its own set of laws and disciplinary measures.
It is commonly said among the Punjabi that "land, women, and water are the sources of all conflicts." This simply means that they deem it necessary to control the means by which one perpetuates his family and property.
What are their beliefs?
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was founded in northern India during the sixteenth century. Its teachings have combined the elements of both Hinduism and Islam in an attempt to find one god who transcends all religious distinctions.
What are their needs?
There is a great need for church planting teams to begin targeting the Punjabi. Their search for 'one god who transcends all religions' can provide the open door to share Jesus - the one true God and Savior - with them.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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