The word "Punjab" is composed of two Persian words, 'Panj' meaning five and 'Aab' which means water. The invigorating and culturally rich state of Punjab is located in the area in proximity to the confluence of 5 rivers Jhelum, Ravi, Sutlej, Beas and Chenab. The unique culture, festivities and spirit of people from this land make them renowned in not only India but the world. Punjabis are known for their will power and free-spirited nature. The culture of Punjab demonstrates a rich history of well-developed ancient civilizations.
The Sikh Jats and Khatris represent the two prime communities of the land of Punjab. While the main profession is agriculture, the communities are also engaged in trade and commerce now. A fair share of the population is the tribes of Punjab which earn their livelihood as unskilled laborers. The skilled laborers actively contribute to enhancing economic growth of the state.
Punjab’s culture and traditions are one of the most distinguished and ancient ones in the world. The unique dances of Punjab like Bhangra and Giddha, their colorful festivals of Lohri, Baisakhi, Teej and vast works in the literary field represent the highlights of the culture of Punjab. The cuisine of Punjab is loved by not only Indians but foreign nationals. Punjabi wedding ceremonies also bear the distinguishing mark of Punjabi culture. The dresses, folk dances, music, rituals and food involved in Punjabi marriages have evolved with the passage of time.
There are a number of folk dances in Punjab, each with their own colorful history and unique style. These dances are performed on occasions like harvest, festivals and marriage ceremonies. Dances with both non-religious and religious backgrounds are popular and range from the “Giddha” and “Sammi” reserved for the girls or the high-voltage “Bhangra” performed by the men.
The Bhangra is a folk dance and music that originated from Punjab. Originally, Bhangra was performed by the farmers of the region to welcome the harvest season. The dance form has witnessed incredible evolution and has been popularized even in the West. Bhangra dance competitions are held with great fanfare in USA and England. Pop albums, Bollywood, college shows and competitions, none have been left untouched by the Bhangra dance.
Another popular Punjabi dance form is the “Giddha and Sammi”. The women stand in a circle and move their hands in characteristic swinging motion, alternated by claps. Clicking, clapping and arm movements characterize the dance. ‘Kurta’ and ‘tehmat’ are worn by the performers.
The most popular form of Punjabi music is Bhangra which has made its way into the mainstream music industry as well. Bhangra is being incorporated with other music styles in the Western countries too.
On happy occasions like marriages, Giddha, Luddi, Dhamal and Bhangra are the typical Punjabi music styles that are sung and played. Romantic songs like Boliyan, Mayhiah and Dhola are also sung. Traditional musical instruments used with Punjabi music are Dhol, Dholki, Toombi, Dhaphli, Chimta, Manjira and Kaanto.
Doabi and Majhi form the standard dialect of the Punjabi tongue, but there are a number of local dialects like Malwai, Awadhi and Malwai that are spoken by the common people. Most folk songs and literature was also composed in these dialects. The folk tales of Heer Ranjha, Dulla Bhatti, Sohni Mahiwal, Mirza Sahiban and Puran Baghat are known to every child in Punjab. Apart from these tales, the religious songs of Baba Farid and Shloks of the Sikh Gurus are also important pillars of the Punjabi culture.
Traditional Dresses of Punjab
The Turban has remained an integral part of the Punjabi attire for Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus. The culture associated with turban has also evolved with time and though Hindus and Muslims have given it up, Sikhs are very proud of their traditional turban. The turban is held in high regard by the Sikh men who are forbidden to cut their hair. The traditional dress of Punjabi men is a sarong called ‘tehmat’ or a baggy ‘Pyjama’ coupled with a straight-cut ‘Kurta’. The Punjabi shoes called ‘jootis’ have retained their charm for centuries. Muktsar and Patiala are renowned for their exceptional ‘jootis’. The rural Punjabi men are often seen clad in vibrant sweaters which are knit by the women of the house.
All Punjabi women wear a ‘Salwar Kameez’. The ‘Salwar’ is the bottom wear while the ‘kurta’ is a fitted or loose long shirt-like garment. The ensemble is completed with a ‘duppatta’ which is a rectangular scarf. The ‘Phulkari’ work is very popular in all parts of India. The Punjabi women are skilled in this type of dense embroidery done with colorful silk thread on coarse cotton or ‘Khaddar’ fabric.
Punjabi Wedding Traditions
Punjabi Weddings are a grand affair. The traditions and rituals of a marriage bear a stamp of the Punjabi culture. The weddings in Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs are conducted by a Pundit, Qazi, Priest and Granthi respectively. However, the celebrations, attire and cuisine have many similarities.
In a traditional Sikh marriage, the couple bows before the Guru Granth Sahib at the Gurudwara. Traditional rituals are performed and Hymns from the Holy book are read, after which the 1st Lanv is recited by the priest. Along with the recitation of the 4 Lanv, the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib in clockwise fashion.
The huge variety of Punjabi dishes has made their mark in restaurants and food chains in all parts of the world. The “sarson ka saag” and “make ki roti” is the staple of Punjabi diet and loved by everyone. Chole Bhature, Samosa, Butter Chicken, Naan and Mutter Paneer are some of the popular dishes of Punjabi cuisine. Lassi is the refreshing yoghurt drink that is consumed in large quantities in Punjab.
Punjabi Poetry is renowned for its deep meaning and clear use of words. It impacts the reader with the views of the Punjabi mindset. The famous Punjabi literary works have been translated in many languages around the world. The Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi scripts were commonly used in all Punjabi works.
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