The Eastern Punjabi of India
The term "Punjabi" is used to describe both those who speak Punjabi and those who inhabit the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It is derived from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (river). Punjabi is an Indo-European language having six main dialects. The Eastern Panjabi language is most closely associated with the Sikhs. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.)
The Punjab region is an ancient center of civilization that has been the main route of invasion and migration into India. Its chief historic cities are Lahore, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, and Patiala.
Modern Punjabi culture was largely shaped by the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. This resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, and millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan. The divergent government policies have had major effects on every area of their lives.
What are their lives like?
Punjabi villages consist of houses that are built closely together. The outer walls of the homes are joined together, protecting them from outsiders. Entrance into the village is through a stone gateway, or durwaza, which arches over the main road. It serves as an important meeting place for villagers, as well as a favorite stopping place for visiting craftsmen and merchants. Urban areas have a full range of occupations, including shopkeepers, teachers, tailors, postmen, religious professionals, and medical practitioners.
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.
The Punjabi are divided into "castes" (social classes) called jati. Caste divisions vary according to region, but they generally range from the upper castes of Brahmans (priests and scholars) to the lowest caste of laborers and servants. Various artisan castes include skilled carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, barbers, and weavers. The jati are further divided into clans, villages, and families.
Marriage is an important institution among all Punjabi religious groups. Traditionally, the bride lives with her husband in his village and house. Parents sometimes still arrange marriages, but this is rarely done without consulting those involved. Wedding ceremonies differ by caste and religion. Generally, they are symbolic of the ideal that a marriage is a free gift from the bride's family to the groom. The bride's family usually pays all the wedding expenses. Often her family provides substantial gifts (a dowry) for her to take to her new home.
The Punjabi have no overall system of social control. Instead, each institution (such as businesses, homes, religious or 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 every man deems it necessary to control the means by which he perpetuates his family and property.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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