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THE INDOMITABLE PUNJABI CHARACTER

THE INDOMITABLE PUNJABI CHARACTER


by Dr. P.D.Shastri

Punjab has been the heart and soul of India and the pride of the world. It has extremes of climate. In the winters Amritsar is often the coldest place in the plains with temperature dropping to zero degree celsius, in the peak of summer some places in the region have temperature as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result of such an exposure the people of Punjab have stupendous physique, robust health and vigour and an aggressively conquering temperament. They never say die.  

 India's reputation of being a golden sparrow and a land of opulence limitless gold and wealth attracted a large number of invaders, marauders and also some other immigrants such as Greeks, Parthians, Bactrias, Scythians, Huns, Turks (before lslam), early Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and finally the Moghuls and the British. Some of these were pure marauders, looters and invaders such as Alexander and Nadir Shah.  
 According to Dodwell India was infinitely absorbent like an ocean. All these races came via northwest route through Khyber Pass and in each case, Punjab had to bear the brunt of the attacks. Even in the times of Moghuls and Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Punjab was in the eye of the storm. This Continental living under threats, battles, blood and struggle made the Punjabi (especially the Khalsa in later ages) a born warrior. lt used to be said that the British won World War I and World War ll because of the British brain-power, America's money power and Indian man- power which had 90% Punjabi soldiers.  
  Punjab has been the holy land too. The Vedas were revealed here, the battle of Mahabharata was fought at Kurukshetra where Lord Krishna gave the eternal message of Gita,-the sermon on the battlefield. Here the Ten Sikhs Gurus lived and preached their eternal message : Guru Granth Sahib was compiled and Durbar Sahib (the Golden Temple) has been the holiest place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs and other faiths all over the world. Rama's mother Kaushalya came from the Patiala region. Valmiki's Ashram was situated in Amritsar (Ram Tirth) where Sita lived during her second exile and gave birth to Luv and Kusha. Taxila was  the world famous the ancient seat of learning.  
 More recently during the British rule, Amritsar massacre (at Jallianwala Bagh) was the first serious threat to British rule. The land has produced Lala Lajpat Rai who said, "every lathi blow on my body (that caused his death) is a nail in the coffin of British Empire.” The result was the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and of many other brave men and women like him. Har Gobind Khurana was the first Indian (Punjabi) to win the coveted Nobel Prize outside India.  
 The Punjabi character is synonymous with courage adventure, resourcefulness initiative and innovation. During 1947 sixty lakh  Punjabi refugees poured into East Punjab from across the border. Most of them crossed over just in three clothes that they were wearing and leaving all their belongings behind within a decade, most of them by the proverbial hard work and striking new paths became affluent business men and dominated not only in the cosmopolise but also in several other Indian cities. This can be compared with the Palestian refugees who were driven out from their homeland in lsrael became marasmic. Their marasmic condition in  UN financed refugee camps is indeed sad. Punjabis never begged rather created opportunities with their own initiative and genius for discovering greener pastures. As a result they have spread out not only in various parts of India but also among countless places in England, America, Asia and Africa. Everywhere they (specially the Khalsa) are on the top in their spheres be it agriculture, transport industry or trading.  
 Wherever a Punjabi goes he carries his little Punjab with him. Southall, England, is a mini Punjab in the heart of London. The Punjabi culture is not jejune or delicate. The spirited Bhangra and its feminine counterpart Giddha are well known and  it is said that after the Bhangra dance every other programme is langra' (lame). Hence it is almost always the culminative sequence to any programme.  
 Before partition, East Punjab (our Punjab) was considered a poor relation of being less fertile. lt always had a deficit in food grains while the . West Punjab then was the most irrigated region in the world. Neverthless due to the miracle that only Punjabis can manage today, Punjab supplies over 80% wheat and rice to India's kitty.  
 With independence came Bhakra-nangal that provided water for agriculture and power for the industries. Before partition in the pre- scientific age, the yield per acre was only 7 maunds. Today it is over 10 times more. Ludhiana with its small scale industries is called the Japan of India. lt is called the wettest district in the whole of India which is the sign of affluence.  
  The Punjab is know how to live life with a capital. Theirs' the best and most nutritious diet in India. Their buffalo milk has 71 % fat as against the toned milk used elsewhere. Punjabi food is ultimate in taste. Sweets like Dhodha have a world fame and world market.  
 It is a marvel that Punjab stayed at number one in per capita income of all the states of India despite turbulence and militancy. During the disturbed period Punjabis rose to the grim situation and with a level-head maintained unity and harmony amongst themselves. Punjabis are indeed the bravest, most hard working and the happiest people in the world.  

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