The true signs of a Punjabi

Formerly, Punjab and Bengal were the largest and most important provinces of the subcontinent, with their own unique cultures. After the partition of 1947, Punjab and Bengal became parts of different countries. This discussion pertains to West Punjab, which is now part of Pakistan. East Punjab is part of India now. The true signs of a Punjabiis a lighter tone note on Punjabi culture.

Trinjin in Punjab

Similarities in culture

Except for religion, people’s habits, language, clothes, customs, food, and the overall culture are almost the same. The Indian Punjab predominantly has a Sikh population with small Hindu and Muslim groups. On the opposite side, the Pakistani part of Punjab has Muslims in the majority, with Christians and Sikhs in small segments. On both sides, the dominant tribes are Rajpoot, Jatt, Arain, Dogar, and Gujjar, and some other costs and tribes with smaller populations. The topic of our current discussion is the Pakistani Part of Punjab. 

Lineage and background

At least once in their lives, all Punjabis have heard the migration story from the preceding generation. Many of us have an origin back in India, from where our ancestors migrated. The grandparents told us about our origin in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala, Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and the city family belonged to. They never forget to mention that ‘asi ty sikho musalman hue aan’.

Naturally, it is human nature to take pride in caste and ethnic roots, but Punjabis believe this with a religious spirit. We play the Trump card by the mention of caste when we want people to boost our self-esteem. Rarely does anybody remember our first name but our surname, family name, and sub-caste are words to call each other. Uska beta, flan ka pota, falan ka falan. Our pride in the blood remains strong despite modernity.

Punjabis as they are

Dress Code

The typical Punjabi dress is Dhoti & kurta for men and Shalwar – Kameez for females. The younger generations, however, have adapted to shalwar-kameez and trouser shirts. Turban once was a standpoint identity of all Punjabis, though varying in shape and style in different areas. Sikhs alone, now carry the pride of wearing a turban because of their religious bindings. Other Punjabis have forgotten the tradition of their forefathers.

Fanatically Foody

All existing tribes in Pakistan respect each other and humbly accept the differences that make the population peaceful. Talking about the traits of tribes will give a fair taste of Punjabi thali flavors. Punjabi tribes share similarities in characteristics. Some traits vary from group to group and from place to place. Khabas is what we love most, regardless of the consequences. Dhabas and all kinds of eateries thrive. 

Everything Halal is a delight for the taste buds. Quality is not relevant when quantity is present. Winter special Saag with butter topping served with Makai ki roti soaked, and Taza Makhan, followed by Lasi, is a must-winter specialty in all Punjabi families. Sweets are another weakness. The sugar content of our blood is probably higher than all other ingredients. We have a sweet tooth. A spoonful of raw sugar every time is a treat for our taste buds as we enter the kitchen.

A typical day for us begins with oil-soaked parathas and ends with a heavy dinner without any physical activity in between the meals. Yes, we have accommodating bellies to fill in fully. Achar is our favorite side-line. We feel happy while messing up the purity of milk with seven-up and calling it dhoodh soda. That is the best summer treat. Make us eat a lavish continental dinner, and we will find room for roti immediately after. We still can spare a place to fill in with Tea, Coffee, and Qahwa, which, to our false understanding, help digest.

Saag Roti - the delicious punjabi dish

Mitti pao/Jaan deyo

What will you do if someone tells you to guess a Punjabi without already knowing that? You look at the way they walk and talk. Very relaxed, comfortable, and easy-going. You will hardly find a Punjabi frowning and sulking over anything for more than a minute. Besides that, they have built-in buffers in their throats. They least understand the concept of speaking softly and in a low tone. They miss the mute button, so they are not known for keeping secrets and staying calm about gossip.

Aunties had another level of trust. They would tell you a particular gossip starting with ‘kisi naal gal na kri’. This chain continues until it reaches where it matters. Give them an entire life to plan a strategy, and they will tell you “ho hu jay GA, kar kur la gay” and they happily end up with “tey fer hun ki kareay?.

Dance / Bhangra

Weddings are incomplete without Bhangra and a Music Band. Playing Dholak in the evenings by the women folks starts a week before the wedding day. The Mangni, Shadi, Barat & Valima are ceremonies of Punjabi wedlock. Every Punjabi is a perfect singer and dancer. Bhangra, Ludy, and Sammi are our folk dances. Every Punjabi is proud to perform to the beat of Dholak. Any rhythmic sound stimulates the hands and feet toes of Punjabi to synchronize with the tune. It could be a shriek of horns on the road or the ticking of keys. Punjabi hands never rest, is true to believe. “Punjabi dy hath nai rehndy”. The positive side is that Punjabis are restless workers. 

Bhangra Dance of Punjab

Accent Obsessed

Punjabis are an acutely accent-obsessed breed. They know the art of speaking every other language in their very own Punjabi accent. Spend a thousand dollars on sending a Punjabi kid to an English medium school, and you will see him speaking English in Punjabi. Like any other language, Punjabi has many dialects. 

Fighting is a pleasure game for Punjabis. Often fights start for no reason. They are a fearless nation when it comes to street fights. The women never hesitate to display their catfights to the whole street. Breaking a committee by a Mohallah Aunti is a typical reason for such a cheerful street fight entertaining the passersby. You see a cultured, educated gentleman in formal attire. Utter a word to his disliking, and you will receive a prompt Punjabi response. Most of the time, it is a typical gaali, a slang no Punjabi can restrain occurring.

Urza Omar
  • Urza Omar
  • The writer has a proven track as a mentor, motivational trainer, blogger, and social activist. She is the founder of a blog intended for avid readers.