The Punjab (/pʌnˈdʒɑːb/ (), /-ˈdʒæb/, /ˈpʌndʒɑːb/, /-dʒæb/; native pronunciation: [pənˈdʒaːb]), also spelled and romanised as Panjāb,[a] is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Pakistan and northern India. The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts.
Until the Partition of Punjab in 1947, the British Punjab Province encompassed the present-day Indian states and union territories of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and Delhi; and the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory. It bordered the Balochistan and Pashtunistan regions to the west, Kashmir to the north, the Hindi Belt to the east, and Rajasthan and Sindh to the south. The Partition of Punjab divided the Land of the Five Rivers between India and Pakistan, yet, geographically, it stands as one indivisible unit.
The people of the Punjab today are called Punjabis, and their principal language is Punjabi. The main religions of the Indian Punjab region are Sikhism and Hinduism. The main religion of the Pakistani Punjab region is Islam. Other religious groups are Christianity, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Ravidassia. The Punjab region has been inhabited by the Indus Valley Civilisation, Indo-Aryan peoples, and Indo-Scythians, and has seen numerous invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Kushans, Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals, Pashtuns, British, and others. Historic foreign invasions mainly targeted the most productive central region of the Punjab known as the Majha region, which is also the bedrock of Punjabi culture and traditions. The Punjab region is often referred to as the breadbasket in both India and Pakistan.
The origin of the word Punjab can probably be traced to the Sanskrit "panca-nada" [pɐntʃɐnɐd̪ɐ], which literally means "five rivers", and is used as the name of a region in Mahabharata. The later name of the region, Punjab, is a compound of two Persian words: پنج panj [pændʒ]—meaning "five"—and آب âb [ɒːb]—meaning "water", introduced to the region by the Turko-Persian conquerors of India, and more formally popularised during the Mughal Empire. Punjab thus means "The Land of Five Waters", referring to the rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. All are tributaries of the Indus River, the Sutlej being the largest.
The Greeks referred to the region as Pentapotamía (Greek: Πενταποταμία), which has the same etymology as the original Persian word, but is otherwise known as Pantzáb (Παντζάμπ)—a transliteration of the original word.
There are two main definitions of the Punjab region: the 1947 definition and the older 1846–1849 definition. A third definition incorporates both the 1947 and the older definitions but also includes northern Rajasthan on a linguistic basis and ancient river movements.
The 1947 definition defines the Punjab region with reference to the dissolution of British India whereby the then British Punjab Province was partitioned between India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the region now includes the Punjab province and Islamabad Capital Territory. In India, it includes the Punjab state, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
Using the 1947 definition, the Punjab borders the Balochistan and Pashtunistan regions to the west, Kashmir to the north, the Hindi Belt to the east, and Rajasthan and Sindh to the south. Accordingly, the Punjab region is very diverse and stretches from the hills of the Kangra Valley to the plains and to the Cholistan Desert.
The older definition of the Punjab region focuses on the collapse of the Sikh Empire and the creation of the British Punjab province between 1846 and 1849. According to this definition, the Punjab region incorporates, in Pakistan, Azad Kashmir including Bhimber and Mirpur and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (especially Peshawar known in the Punjab region as Pishore). In India the wider definition includes parts of Delhi and Jammu Division.
Using the older definition of the Punjab region, the Punjab region covers a large territory and can be divided into five natural areas:
The formation of the Himalayan Range of mountains to the east and north-east of the Punjab is the result of a collision between the north-moving Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate. The plates are still moving together, and the Himalayas are rising by about 5 millimetres (0.2 in) per year.
The upper regions are snow-covered the whole year. Lower ranges of hills run parallel to the mountains. The Lower Himalayan Range runs from north of Rawalpindi through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and further south. The mountains are relatively young, and are eroding rapidly. The Indus and the five rivers of the Punjab have their sources in the mountain range and carry loam, minerals and silt down to the rich alluvial plains, which consequently are very fertile.
The third definition of the Punjab region adds to the definitions cited above and includes parts of Rajasthan on linguistic lines and takes into consideration the location of the Punjab rivers in ancient times. In particular, the Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts are included in the Punjab region.
The climate is a factor contributing to the economy of the Punjab. It is not uniform over the whole region, with the sections adjacent to the Himalayas receiving heavier rainfall than those at a distance.
There are three main seasons and two transitional periods. During the hot season from mid-April to the end of June, the temperature may reach 49 °C (120 °F). The monsoon season, from July to September, is a period of heavy rainfall, providing water for crops in addition to the supply from canals and irrigation systems. The transitional period after the monsoon is cool and mild, leading to the winter season, when the temperature in January falls to 5 °C (41 °F) at night and 12 °C (54 °F) by day. During the transitional period from winter to the hot season, sudden hailstorms and heavy showers may occur, causing damage to crops.
The Punjab region of India and Pakistan has a historical and cultural link to Indo-Aryan peoples as well as partially to various indigenous communities. As a result of several invasions from Central Asia and the Middle East, many ethnic groups and religions make up the cultural heritage of the Punjab.
In prehistoric times, one of the earliest known cultures of South Asia, the Indus Valley civilisation was located in the region.
The epic battles described in the Mahabharata are described as being fought in what is now the State of Haryana and historic Punjab. The Gandharas, Kambojas, Trigartas, Andhra, Pauravas, Bahlikas (Bactrian settlers of the Punjab), Yaudheyas and others sided with the Kauravas in the great battle fought at Kurukshetra. According to Dr Fauja Singh and Dr L. M. Joshi: "There is no doubt that the Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Andhra, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas, Saindhavas and Kurus had jointly contributed to the heroic tradition and composite culture of ancient Punjab".
In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great invaded Pauravas and defeated King Porus. His armies entered the region via the Hindu Kush in northwest Pakistan and his rule extended up to the city of Sagala (present-day Sialkot in northeast Pakistan). In 305 BCE the area was ruled by the Maurya Empire. In a long line of succeeding rulers of the area, Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka stand out as the most renowned. The Maurya presence in the area was then consolidated in the Indo-Greek Kingdom in 180 BCE. Menander I Soter "The Saviour" (known as Milinda in Indian sources) is the most renowned leader of the era, he conquered the Punjab and made Sagala the capital of his Empire. Menander carved out a Greek kingdom in the Punjab and ruled the region till his death in 130 BCE. The neighbouring Seleucid Empire rule came to an end around 12 BCE, after several invasions by the Yuezhi and the Scythian people.
In 711–713 CE, the 18-year-old Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim of Taif, a city in what is now Saudi Arabia, came by way of the Arabian Sea with Arab troops to defeat Raja Dahir. Bin Qasim then led his troops to conquer the Sindh and Punjab regions for the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate, making him the first to bring Islam to the region.
During the establishment and consolidation of the Muslim Turkic Mughal Empire prosperity, growth, and relative peace were established, particularly under the reign of Jahangir. Muslim empires ruled the Punjab for approximately 1,000 years. The period was also notable for the emergence of Guru Nanak (1469–1539), the founder of Sikhism.
The Afghan forces of Durrani Empire also known as Afghan Empire under the command of Ahmad Shah Durrani entered Punjab in 1749, and captured Punjab, with Lahore being governed by Pashtuns, and Kashmir regions. In 1758, Punjab came under the rule of Marathas, who captured the region by defeating the Afghan forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali. Following Third Battle of Panipat against Marathas, Durranis reconsolidated it's power and dominion over Punjab, Kashmir regions. Abdali's Indian invasion weakened the Maratha influence. After the death of Ahmad Shah, the Punjab was freed from the Afghan rule by Sikhs for a brief period between 1773 and 1818. At the time of the formation of the Dal Khalsa in 1748 at Amritsar, the Punjab had been divided into 36 areas and 12 separate Sikh principalities, called misl. From this point onward, the beginnings of a Punjabi Sikh Empire emerged. Out of the 36 areas, 22 were united by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The other 14 accepted British sovereignty. After Ranjit Singh's death, assassinations and internal divisions severely weakened the empire. Six years later the British East India Company was given an excuse to declare war, and in 1849, after two Anglo-Sikh wars, the Punjab was annexed by the British.
In the Indian Rebellion of 1857 the Sikh rulers backed the East India Company, providing troops and support, but in Jhelum 35 British soldiers of HM XXIV regiment were killed by the local resistance, and in Ludhiana a rebellion was crushed with the assistance of the Punjab chiefs of Nabha and Malerkotla.
The British Raj had political, cultural, philosophical, and literary consequences in the Punjab, including the establishment of a new system of education. During the independence movement, many Punjabis played a significant role, including Madan Lal Dhingra, Sukhdev Thapar, Ajit Singh Sandhu, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Parmanand, Muhammad Iqbal, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, and Lala Lajpat Rai.
At the time of partition in 1947, the province was split into East and West Punjab. East Punjab (48%) became part of India, while West Punjab (52%) became part of Pakistan. The Punjab bore the brunt of the civil unrest following the end of the British Raj, with casualties estimated to be in the millions.
Ethnic ancestries of modern Punjabis include a mixture of Indo-Aryan and Indo-Scythian. Semitic ancestries can also be found in lesser numbers. With the advent of Islam, settlers from Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir have also integrated into the Muslim Punjabi society. However, the majority of Punjab is still made up of the Arains, Dalits, Gujjars, Jats, Khatris, Tarkhans, Brahmins, Bhats, Awans, Kambojs, Rajputs Sainis, Kumhars, and others. In the past, the most densely populated area has been the Majha region of Punjab.
The major language spoken in the Punjab is Punjabi. In the Indian Punjab this is written in the Gurmukhi script. Pakistan uses the Shahmukhi script, that is closer to Urdu script. Hindi, written in the Devanagri script, is used widely in the Indian states of Himanchal Pradesh and Haryana. Several dialects of Punjabi are spoken in the different regions. The Majhi dialect is considered to be textbook Punjabi and is shared by both countries.
The vast majority of Pakistani Punjabis are Sunni Muslim by faith, but also include large minority faiths mostly Shia Muslim, Ahmadis and Christians. Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak is the main religion practised in the post-1966 Indian Punjab state. About 57.7% of the population of Punjab state is Sikh, 38.5% is Hindu, and the rest are Muslims, Christians, and Jains. Punjab state contains the holy Sikh cities of Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Tarn Taran Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib.
Punjabis celebrate the following cultural, seasonal and religious festivals:
The historical region of Punjab is considered to be one of the most fertile regions on Earth. Both east and west Punjab produce a relatively high proportion of India and Pakistan's food output respectively.
The region has been used for extensive wheat farming, in addition rice, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetables are also grown.
The agricultural output of the Punjab region in Pakistan contributes significantly to Pakistan's GDP. Both Indian and Pakistani Punjab are considered to have the best infrastructure of their respective countries. Indian Punjab has been estimated to be the second richest state in India. Pakistani Punjab produces 68% of Pakistan's food grain production. Its share of Pakistan's GDP has historically ranged from 51.8% to 54.7%.
Called "The Granary of India" or "The Bread Basket of India", Indian Punjab produces 1% of the world's rice, 2% of its wheat, and 2% of its cotton. In 2001, it was recorded that farmers made up 39% of Indian Punjab's workforce.