Mainly found in Northern India and Pakistan, the Punjabis are one of the largest ethnic groups on the face of the earth. They belong to the Indo-Aryan race. They overwrite other Indians and Pakistanis for their population of 88 million. About 20 million of that total live in Punjab, India, while 68 million are in Pakistani Punjab. Historically, these two regions were the ancestral lands of the Punjabi people. As a people, they are industrious, noisy and full of humor. The so-called Punjabi identity is the union of many groups of people living in the Punjab states of India and Pakistan.
The Punjab regions have given the people of Punjab their identity and a homogeneous culture. The very name of Punjab means “Land of the Five Rivers”. It originates from the Persian words Panj (five) and ab(river). The two regions developed from ancient agricultural settlements which were the Harappan civilization from the third millennium BC onwards. The Ravi river was the privileged place where their ancestors settled, and the Afghans, Turks, Huns, Greeks and Persians are all counted as part of the Punjabi lineage. Over time, they would have to abide by the rules of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh nation and imperial Britain. In 1947, the Punjab region was divided into two and officially became the Indian Punjab and the Pakistani Punjab, since predominantly Muslim Pakistan sought to free itself from India mainly Hindus.
Punjabi art, culture and cuisine
Punjabi culture includes art and craft, music, cuisine, architecture and festivals. The art in the Punjab society includes the mud used to plaster their houses and walls creating a variety of designs similar to wallpaper. Metalworking includes cutlery and household tableware. Toys and wooden boxes are also popular craft items and glass baskets. Embroidery, carpets, shoes, paintings, weaving and embroidery are added to the variety. Literature and poetry are practiced as art. The dances include the bhangra and Jumar,which are popular during the celebrations. Punjabi cuisine consists of chicken, bread, rice, yogurt, sweets and spices. Popular Punjabi dishes are tandoori chicken, pakoras, samosa, naan, mutter paneer, barfi and gulab jamun.
Language and religion
There are around 130 million Indians and Pakistanis who use the Punjabi language as their mother tongue. Although some Punjab ethnic groups may use other variants of the language in another dialect depending on their origin, such as the languages of Lahnda. Pakistan has around 766,335,300 native speakers, while India has 29,102,477 users of the Punjabi language. Some 102 million migrants around the world also use Punjabi as their first language. Religion plays an important role in Punjabi life. In earlier times, Hindus and Buddhism governed their way of life. Thus, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity and other minor religions were introduced and accepted by the people of Punjab. Christians are Catholics or Protestants, with more members in Pakistan than in India.
Modern threats and influences
Many Punjabi subgroups also belong to the Sikh religious faith, and these are an important sub-group of the wider Punjabi culture. The Sikhs originally ruled the regions of Punjab from 1767 to 1799, after which they became subject to British rule. The problem of Sikh extremists arose from their desire to be independent and to form their own Khalistan country, which would be found in the Indian regions of Punjab. This involved killing people in the area. Since then, the declaration and sovereignty of the Khalistan country has been turned on and off. Initiated at the time of Indira Gandhi’s Prime Minister, Sikh extremists continued to create civil conflict and unrest in the Indian region of Punjab to this day.