The Punjabis are an ethnic group of Indo-Aryan peoples, originating from the
Punjab region, found in and northern Pakistan . Punjabi people have
traditionally and historically been farmers and soldiers, which has transferred
into modern times with their dominance of agriculture and military fields in India . In addition, as the most ardent
supporters of a Pakistani state, Punjabis in Pakistan have a prominent and dominant
role in politics and governance of Pakistan . Pakistan
Punjabis are the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, 3rd biggest nation of South Asia's, 3rd largest community in Muslim Ummah and the 9th biggest Punjabi speaking nation of the World.
The act of uniting by natural affinity and attraction of the various tribes, castes and the inhabitants of the Punjab into a broader common "Punjabi" identity and Punjabi nationalism started grooming from the onset of the 18th century, when Sikh Empire with Secular Punjabi Rule was established by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Prior to that the sense and perception of a common "Punjabi" ethno-cultural identity and community did not exist, even though the majority of the various communities of the Punjab had long shared linguistic, cultural and racial commonalities.
During the late 18th century, due to lacking in unity by the natural affinity of the various tribes, castes and the inhabitants of the
Punjab into a broader common
"Punjabi" identity, after the decline of the Mughal Empire, led the Punjab region into a lack of
governance. In 1747, the Durrani Empire was established by the Ahmad Shah
Abdali in Afghanistan, therefore, Punjab saw frequent invasions by the Ahmad
Shah Abdali, The great Punjabi poet Baba Waris Shah said of the barbaric and
brutal situation that; "Khada Peeta Lahy Da, Baqi Ahmad Shahy Da"
("We Have Nothing With Us Except What We Eat And Wear, All Other Things
Are For Ahmad Shah").
Actually, from centuries,
Punjab was under continuous attack by
the foreign invaders. Before invasions of Ahmad Shah
Abdali, the Mughals were the invaders of Punjab. Punjabi tribes, castes and the
inhabitants of Punjab revolted against them, but in a personal
capacity and without uniting by the natural affinity of Punjabi people.
However, Punjabi Sufi Saints were in a struggle to awaken the consciousness in the people of
Punjab. Before Baba Waris Shah, Shah Hussain approved Dulla
Bhatti’s revolt against Akbar as; Kahay Hussain Faqeer Sain Da - Takht Na Milday
In the result of spiritual grooming and moral character building of Punjabi people by the Punjabi Saints and Punjabi poets like; Baba Farid - 12th-13th century, Damodar - 15th century, Guru Nanak Dev -15th - 16th century, Guru Angad - 16th century, Guru Amar Das - 15th - 16th century, Guru Ram Das - 16th century, Shah Hussain - 16th century, Guru Arjun Dev - 16th - 17th century, Bhai Gurdas - 16th - 17th century, Sultan Bahu - 16th-17th century, Guru Tegh Bahadur - 17th century, Guru Gobind Singh - 17th century, Saleh Muhammad Safoori - 17th century, Bulleh Shah - 17th-18th century, Waris Shah - 18th century and Frequent invasions by the foreign invaders and at last by the Ahmad Shah Abdali, stimulated the natural affinity of Punjabi people, taught the lesson to the various tribes, castes and the inhabitants of the Punjab and forced them to unite into a broader common "Punjabi" identity. Therefore, Punjabi nationalism started to initiate in the people of the land of five rivers to defend their land, to save their culture, to protect their wealth by ruling their land and by governing the people of their nation by their own self.
In the late 18th century, during frequent invasions of the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Misls were in close combat with the Durrani Empire, but they began to gain territory and eventually the Bhangi Misl captured the
. When Zaman Shah invaded Lahore Punjab again in 1799, Maharaja
Ranjit Singh was able to make gains in the chaos. He defeated Zaman Shah in a
battle between and Lahore . The citizens of Amritsar , encouraged by Sada Kaur, offered
him the city and Maharaja Ranjit Singh was able to take control of it in a
series of battles with the Bhangi Misl and their allies. Later Maharaja Ranjit
Singh conquered the Lahore Kashmir valley, Ladakh, along with modern day
Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and annexed it into greater Punjab region by establishing Sikh
Empire with Secular Punjabi Rule which provided the boost to the already
initiated Punjabi nationalism.
Traditionally, from the initiation of Punjabi nationalism, Punjabi identity is primarily linguistic, geographical and cultural. Punjabi identity is independent of race, color, creed or religion, and refers to those for whom the Punjabi language is the first language, those who reside in the
Punjab region and associate
themselves with Punjabi Nation. Integration and assimilation are important
parts of Punjabi culture, since Punjabi identity is not based on tribal
connections or race. More or less all Punjabis share the same cultural
Historically, the Punjabi people were a heterogeneous group and were subdivided into a number of clans called Biradari (literally meaning "Brotherhood") or Tribes, with each person bound to a clan. However, Punjabi identity also included those who did not belong to any of the historical tribes of the
Punjab. With the passage of time tribal structures
are coming to an end and are being replaced with more cohesive and holistic
society. That is why community building and group cohesiveness form the new
pillars of Punjabi society due to initiation of Punjabi nationalism.
The recent definition of Punjabi people, in Pakistani
Punjab, is not based on racial
classification, common ancestry or endogamy, but based on geographical and
cultural basis and thus makes it a unique definition. Religious homogeneity
remains elusive as a predominantly Islamic Sunni-Shia population with Ahmadiyya
and Christian minority. A variety of related sub-groups exist in and is often considered by
many Pakistani Punjabis to be simply regional Punjabis. Pakistan
People from a few provinces of
have made Pakistan Punjab their home in recent times
and now their consecutive generations identify themselves as Punjabis. The
largest community to assimilate in Punjabi culture and now identify themselves
as Punjabis is Kashmiris. The second largest community after Kashmiris is the people
of , who identify themselves as
Punjabis. The other communities to assimilate in Punjabis include Baloch who
can be found throughout India Punjab.
The welcoming nature of
Punjab has led to successful integration of almost
all ethnic groups in Punjab over time. The Urdu, Punjabi and other
language speakers who arrived in Punjab in 1947 have now assimilated
and their second and third generations identify themselves as Punjabis even
though it is not the same in Sindh where they form distinct
ethnic groups. Pakistan
, Punjabis constitute the largest
ethnic group, comprising more than 60% of the total population of the country.
They reside predominantly in the Pakistan , neighboring Azad Kashmir in the
region of province of Punjab , in Jammu and Kashmir and KPK. Punjabis are also
found in large communities in rural Sind and in the largest city of Pakistan, Islamabad Capital Territory . Karachi
, Punjabis represent 2.85% of the
population. The majority of Punjabi-speaking people in India can be found in the Indian
states of India Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, as well as in and the Delhi of Union Territory . Large communities of Punjabis
are also found in the Chandigarh region of Jammu and the states of Rajasthan,
Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Jammu and Kashmir
Punjab region within maintains a strong influence
on the perceived culture of India towards the rest of the
world. Numerous Bollywood film productions use the Punjabi language in their
songs and dialogue as well as traditional dances such as India bhangra. Bollywood has
been dominated by Punjabi artists including Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Vinod Khanna,
Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Navalpreet Rangi, Akshay Kumar and
Kareena Kapoor. Punjabi Prime Ministers of India include Gulzarilal Nanda,
Inder Kumar Gujral and Dr. Manmohan Singh. There are numerous players in the
Indian cricket team both past and present, including Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil
Dev, Mohinder Amarnath, Navjot Sidhu, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh Virat
Kohli, and Yograj Singh.
The Punjabi Sikhs are largely concentrated in the state of
Punjab forming 58% of the
population with Punjabi Hindus forming 38%. Indian Punjab is also home to small groups of
Punjabi Muslims and Punjabi Christian. Most of the East Punjab's Muslims (in today's states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Delhi ) left for Chandigarh West Punjab in 1947. However, a small
community still exists today, mainly in Malerkotla and Qadian , the only Muslim
princely state among the seven that formed the erstwhile and East Punjab States Patiala Union (PEPSU). The other six (mostly
Sikh) states were: , Nabha, Jind, Faridkot,
Kapurthala and Kalsia. Patiala
In Haryana, Punjabi Hindus form 87% of the population with Punjabi Muslims at 7% and Punjabi Sikhs at 5%.
In Himachal Pradesh, Punjabi Hindus constitute 95% of the population with Punjabi Muslims at 2%, Punjabi Sikhs and Punjabi Buddhists at 1% each.
, Hindu Punjabis account for 35%
with Punjabi Muslims 13% and Sikhs for 3.5%. Delhi
, 80.78% people of the population
are Punjabi Hindus, 13.11% are Punjabi Sikhs, 4.87 are Punjabi Muslims and minorities
are Punjabi Christians, Punjabi Buddhists and Punjabi Jains. Chandigarh
The Indian censuses record the native languages, but not the descent of the citizens. Linguistic data cannot accurately predict ethnicity: for example, Punjabis make up a large portion of
's population, but many descendants
of the Punjabi Hindu and Punjabi Sikh refugees who came to Delhi following the partition of Delhi now speaks Hindi natively.
Thus, there is no concrete official data on the ethnic makeup of India and other Indian states. Delhi
The Punjabi people have emigrated in large numbers in many parts of the world. The
has a significant number of
Punjabis from both United Kingdom and Pakistan as does India (specifically Canada and Vancouver ) and the Toronto , (specifically United States 's California Central Valley). The Middle East has a lar ge immigrant
community of Punjabis, in places such as the UAE and . There are large communities in Kuwait East Africa including the countries of , Kenya and Uganda . Punjabis have also emigrated to Australia, New
Zealand and Southeast Asia including Malaysia, Thailand, Tanzania and Singapore Hong Kong.