The Mirpur 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 935,000 Mirpur Panjabi speakers live in the Mirpur region of Kashmir, near the Pakistan border. Their language is distinct from, but related to, Western Punjabi.
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. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.) Millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, and millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan.
What are their lives like?
Villages in the Punjab region have houses that are built closely together. The outer walls 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 merchants and traders. The average population of a village in the central area is about 1,000 people. 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 "caste" system is India's strict organization of social classes. The Punjabi are divided into castes called jati. Castes generally have origin stories that explain how they came into an area, and/or their present occupational position. Caste divisions vary according to region, but they generally range from the upper castes of Brahmans (priests, scholars, landowners, and skilled artisans) to the lowest caste of laborers and servants. Various artisan castes include those who are skilled as carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, barbers, and weavers. The jati are further divided into gots (clans), pinds (villages), pattis (divisions), and parivars (families).
Marriage 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, with nothing taken back in exchange. 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 many unique forms of art, including dance, folk epics, poetry, and architecture.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
The complex nature of Indian society makes church planting a difficult task. Prayer is needed to break down the barriers of resistance that separate these people from a knowledge of God through Jesus.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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