The Western Punjabi of Pakistan
The Punjab region of India and Pakistan 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 event resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.) At the cost of thousands of lives, millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated eastward into India, and millions of Muslims moved westward into Pakistan.
What are their lives like?
The Punjab has long been one of the world's most important agricultural regions. In the Pakistan Punjab, the principal crops are cotton and wheat, which grow easily in the dry climate. Cotton is their primary cash crop, grown mainly for export.
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 household, or ghar, is the center of social life for the Punjabi, whether they are rich or poor. The ghar is made up of those who contribute to and eat from a single hearth. All members of the ghar pool their earnings and make joint decisions regarding their savings, investments, and any major transactions. Families are formed and developed within the ghar.
Marriage is considered universal and necessary among all Punjabi. Residences are generally patrilocal, which means that young couples live in the husband's village near his parents. Marriages can still be arranged by parents, but this is rarely done without extensive discussions. Wedding ceremonies vary according to caste and religion; however, the bride's parents usually pay for the wedding. Even though in 1961 the Indian government forbid the giving of a dowry (the property that a wife or a wife's family gives to her husband upon marriage) this tradition still continues in Punjabi families.
Among the Punjabi, there is no overall system of social control. Instead, each social institution (such as homes, businesses, civil administration, religious organizations, and political organizations) has its own set of laws and disciplinary measures.
The staple diet of the Punjabi consists of bread and preserved or fresh vegetables.
What are their beliefs?
The Western Punjabi are not orthodox Muslims, but rather practice what is known as "folk Islam." Their beliefs are interwoven with a rich variety of local superstitions. They rely heavily on astrology, charms or amulets, and potions. They also believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye."
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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