The Sikh Homeland
Punjab is the homeland of the Sikh religion. People practising Sikhism are major residents of the region of Punjab. It is dominated by lush green fields where wheat and rice are grown in abundance.
The region of Punjab is located in such a place that many rivers from the Himalayas, mainly the Beas, Sutlej and river Ravi flow into the state. These rivers provide fertile farmlands in the state. They have high production rates of wheat and rice in the state.
Many other industries have formed their base here, some of the well established textile and manufacturing sectors have industries here. There are major establishments of textile producing centers in the state.
Punjab’s name can be derived in the Persian language. Basically the word Punjab refers to the land where a culmination of five rivers is taking place. The five popular rivers flowing across the Punjab state are – Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.
This gives us a thinking of the connection of Punjab with the Persians. Since Punjab was surrounded by the Persian empires in the ancient days, it came under the influence of the Persians till a certain period of time in history.
The famous king Darius 1 is said to have conquered the region for a brief period of time in history.
Later, Alexander invaded the region and set up his rule in several establishments of the state. Things changed after around 3rd century AD. Around the 6th century, the Islamic forces came into play.
Thus, these regions changed power in the hands of its rulers and it was continuously attacked by the Turks, Khiljis, Mongols, Tughlaks and finally the Lodhis.
After the Islamic superiority in the state, the Sikhs came to power in the region. At that time, the Afghans controlled the undivided Punjab and Sind regions. This went on till late 1757.
Till the time of 1839, Maharaja Ranjit Singh came to power in the state. He is a very powerful name in history as he is known to have fought the Afghans bravely and stood for the maintenance of the dignity of Sikh religion.
He constructed many places of religious importance for the Sikhs and worked for the welfare and uplift of Sikhs.
He was a favorite among Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in the region. He was a benevolent person who fought hard that even Afghans dared not to question the rights of their land.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh passed away in 1839 and that brought an end to his glorious rule in the state.
After his death, the Sikh kingdom sought a terrible decline and became a pawn in the hands of the British. The famous freedom fighter Bhagat Singh is remembered by the nation even to this day and their sacrifices for the nation have always been held high with respect.
The famous Jallianwallah Bagh massacre is etched in every Indian’s mind and it reminds of the disgusting and horrifying treatment that Britishers meted out to innocent Indians.
When India got its independence in August 15th 1947, things changed drastically for this state. When the whole country was celebrating the achievement of freedom from British rule, the land of Punjab came under the ugly scenes of partition and its effects.
The agreements and disagreements between the two nations resulted in two separate nations, India and a separate Pakistan, where, Hindus and Sikhs migrated back to Punjab and Muslims migrated to Pakistan. All this happened after a horrifying massacre of around 5, 00,000 innocent lives on both sides.
Thus the country and the state of Punjab saw its worst days after achieving independence. Later things gained normalcy after a long time.
The region of Punjab was further divided into Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh so that administrative operations could be carried out without hassles. This decision was taken in 1966 and the rule was implemented by the government immediately.
Punjabis follow the doctrines laid out by the first Sikh guru, Shri Guru Nanak. Large families are a part and parcel of every Punjabi household.
The elder members of the family are given lot of respect in the families. Usually Punjabis choose to stay as a close knit unit and celebrations are part of their customs.
They take part in big gatherings and functions together as a family. On a day to day basis, every person is assigned his own duties and he has to carry out that task dutifully in the name of god.
Women are treated with respect and there is no order of superiority in the families.
Everyone is treated equally within a family, on a general note. Whenever there are big functions or celebrations within a family, the entire family gets together for the event and contributes generously.
When a girl is getting married, it is customary for the girl’s maternal uncle and maternal grandparents to offer her something in gold.
The maternal uncle has to compulsorily make her wear an ivory bangle. The grandparents on the bride’s mother’s side have to get her utensils, gold ornaments and clothes to support her in starting a new life.
Whenever there is a new event within the family, all the members of the large family get together and take part in customary rituals. They lend a hand and support each other in all the activities.
Dressing and Attires
Punjabi culture does not stop at that. Their traditional dresses were something that the whole country took notice of, and almost the entire country loves their traditional dress.
The salwar kameez is the traditional dress of the Punjabi women and they wear it with a long veil called the duppatta upon the dress.
Men can be seen in kurta and pajama or a collared shirt with pants. It is customary for many Sikh community women of the region to put their veil above their heads as a mark of respect to lord and represents a humble self.
Food habits in Punjab are something to be proud of and the entire world loves their cuisines. The world famous paranthas are a gift from the land of Punjab. Punjabis prefer chapati, rotis and paranthas made of wheat for their breakfast.
The paranthas are stuffed chapati and they are the ideal breakfast menus for any Punjabi. Punjabis love stuffed paranthas, which are filled with potatoes, capsicums, cauliflowers, etc.
Punjab is a major producer of wheat in the country and people from Punjab have made wheat as the staple food of their land.
Rice consumption is very less in the state. Consumption of dairy products is relatively more and no Punjabi meal is complete without a heavy glass of buttermilk.
They enjoy their ghee spread on paranthas, chapati or rotis. Milk is available plenty in this state and the consumption of milk is also pretty more compared to other states.
The Golden Temple
The main attraction in Punjab is the Golden temple or the Harmandir Sahib, which is located in Amritsar. The temple is the most sacred place of the Sikh community and devotees from all over the country come and prays here at what they popularly call as “The house of God” with all their devotion and respect for the lord.
At this popular shrine, the largest communal meal or ‘Langar’ is organized where around 35,000 people are provided with meals for free by the temple.
Service is the main motto of the temple and they truly practice and preach it by virtue of the services they render to society.
The shrine practices equality among all people and this is followed in its principles as well, when during a Langar, all diners are made to sit on the floor to consume their meals.
This principle is followed till date by the shrine and is preached irrespective of their education and status.
This is another main attraction of the shrine that draws devotees from every corner of the country to visit this enchanting place at least once in their life time.
This pilgrimage shrine is open to visitors and pilgrims alike, 24 hours a day. The holy book of the Sikhs, the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ is recited at almost 35 different places inside the shrine and each reading takes almost 48 hours at a stretch to complete.
Cultural diversity, apart from equality and brotherhood are epitomes of this glorious place called Punjab and opens its arms to people from all walks of life making them admire and fall deeper in love with their hospitality.