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List of State in Central India

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Punjab at a glance

Punjab, the land of five rivers, has land with prosperity. The plains of Punjab, with their fertile soil and abundant water supply, are naturally suited to be the breadbasket for India. The land of Punjab is a land of exciting culture. The state has achieved tremendous growth over the years due to the success of the Green Revolution in the early 70s. For a major period in the second half of the 20th century, Punjab led the other states in India to achieve self-sufficiency in crop production. The current state of Punjab was formed in 1966, the state was organized into three smaller states - Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Punjab is said to have derived its name from the five rivers that flow through this region - Indus, Sutlej, Beas, Ravi and Ghaggar. It was a region that formed parts of the Indus Valley civilization. The Aryans settled in this region in about 1500 B.C. It was in about 900 B.C. that the battle of Kurukshetra mentioned in the Epic Mahabharata was believed to have taken place in Kurukshetra. During this period the region formed small principalities ruled by chieftains. In 326 B.C. Alexander the Great of Macedonia invaded Punjab. After this was the rule of Chandragupta Maurya that lasted till about 1st century A.D. By 318 A.D. the Gupta dynasty exercised their influence. The Huns followed them in about 500 A.D. By 1000 A.D., the Muslims invaded Punjab led by Mahmud of Ghazni. In 1030 A.D., the Rajputs gained control of this territory. During the Sultanate period and Mughal rule, Punjab was engaged in intermittent warfare. In about 1192 A.D. the Ghoris defeated the Chauhans and ruled until the establishment of the Mughal rule. Guru Gobind Singh (1661-1708 AD) created the Khalsa, an army of saint-warriors who rose up against the ferocity perpetrated by the Mugals. The Sikhs carried on their struggle and after the fall of Banda Bahadur, they established themselves as sovereign rulers of the greater part of the Punjab. From the misals evolved the government of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1778-1839). He was the first independent native Indian ruler after the centuries of slavery. His reign, though not long, is significant because of its concept of dharma entwined with the practice of secularism. In the early, 19th century the British established their influence. After independence this region witnessed mass migration and distribution of property. In 1947 when India was partitioned, the larger half of Punjab went to Pakistan.

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  • Area 50,362 km2
    Capital Chandigarh
    Population 27,704,236
    Official Languages Punjabi
    Boundary Punjab is a state in North India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast, Rajasthan to the southwest, and the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west.
  • Baisakhi Festival

    Baisakhi is the first day of the New Year in the traditional Vikrami calendar and it is one of the high points of the year for Sikhs as it is anniversary of the founding of Khalsa. Baisakhi is a North Indian harvest festival, for it is the day when the reaping of the rabi (winter crop) begins. The jubilation at a bountiful harvest becomes the reason for celebration. It is one of the most popular and colourful festivals of Punjab, with fairs held at various places. Dancing men and women, on the day of Baisakhi, emerge singing and dancing from the surrounding villages carrying a portion of the first harvest of wheat proceeding to the gurudwara to make an offering.

  • Lohri

    Lohri marks the end of winter and for Punjabis, this is more than just a festival, as it is an example of a way of life. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather round the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular songs and exchange greetings. An extremely auspicious day, Lohri marks the sun's entry in to the 'Makar Rashi' (northern hemisphere). There is puja that symbolises a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.

  • Holla Mohalla

    Hola Mohalla, celebrated in Anandpur Sahib was started by Guru Gobind Singh in 1700 AD, adding spiritual and martial elements to Holi, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi. The fair begins a few days before Holi and is marked by the congregation of Sikhs from all over the State, who arrive on trucks and tractors. A large number of 'Langars' (community kitchen) are set up to provide free food to all. The day after Holi, the three days Hola Mahalla begins with the singing of the divine hymns in the ambrosial hours of very early morning. With the dawning of the day the Nihangs, perform feats of martial valour in archery, sword fencing, fancy horse-riding, tent-pegging, and the deft handling, displaying their skills at this festival of valour, a pageant of the past. On the last day led by Panj Pyaras, a long procession starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib, wearing traditional robes and armour of blue and saffron colours and all steel, they move out through the township which concludes the festival.

  • Gurupurab Festival

    The festivals held in association with the lives of the Sikh Gurus are called Gurupurbs. The important Gurupurbs celebrated are the birthdays of Guru Nanak and Guru Govind Singh and the martyrdom days of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur. In the early morning a religious procession goes around the localities singing shabads (hymns). Devotees offer sweets and tea when the procession passes by their residence. The celebrations start with the three-day akhand path in which the Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) is read continuously from beginning to end without a break. Conclusion of the reading coincides with the day of the festival. On this day the Granth Sahib is carried in procession on a float. Five armed guards representing the panj pyares, head the procession. Sikhs visit gurdwaras where kirtans (religious songs) are sung and special programmes and langar are arranged.

  • Basant Panchami

    Basant Panchami heralds the advent of spring. Fully blossomed mustard fields glow all over rural Punjab in gorgeous golden yellow. The Basant fair is held in many villages of the Punjab. People put on yellow costumes appropriate to the season looking like a huge mass of mustard blossom walking down to the fair. Kite-flying was a popular entertainment of the people on this occasion. On a breezy Basant Panchami day, one could see nothing but innumerable multi-coloured kites in the sky, swishing over in all directions

  • The Chhapaar Mela

    It is celebratedin the village of Chhapaar in Ludhiana District, every September, to propitiate Guga-the Zahir Pir. He is known as the Lord of the snakes. It is believed that snake poison is neutralised by his grace and barren women are blessed with offsprings. Thousands of devotees take Guga Pir in a procession. Peoples of different faiths paricipate in the Mela.

  • Jor Mela

    This three-day annual Shahidi Jor Mela is celebrated in Fatehgarh Sahib. This is in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh's two sons Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh who were buried alive in a brick-wall here. The Mela starts with the Akhand Path of Guru Garanth Sahib and would conclude with the Bhog ceremony of the Akhand Path. A religious procession would also be taken out on the concluding day. More than a million people are expected to pay homage at Fatehgarh Sahib to the great martyrs.

  • Hariballabh Sangeet Mela

    The famous Hariballabh Sangeet Mela is held in Jalandhar in the memory of the sant-musician, Swami Hariballabh, who attained great heights in classical music and whose dhrupadhs were master pieces. The Mela is organised at Devi Talab near the samadhi of the saint from 27 December to 30 December. Every year classical singers and musicians of repute will partake in this mela

  • Heritage & Culture of Punjab

    Punjabi culture is one of the oldest and richest cultures in world history, and also one of the most vibrant. The Indian state of Punjab exhibits a unique cultural landscape, which thrives in both traditional values and utilitarian aspects. There is artistry in every aspect of life in Punjab and an aura of embellishment dominates the place. The opulent culture of this northwestern state of India is apparent in its metal work, embroidery, wall paintings, jewelry, mud wall paintings, architecture, folk songs and dances. The culture of the state is wide in scope, encompassing a rich history and a pulsating social life. The century-old Punjab culture is renowned for its tolerance, progressiveness and logical approach to life as well.

    The culture of Punjab underwent significant phases of evolution that may be broadly divided into three categories. Ancient Punjab had a rich baked-brick urban architecture. The people at that time were highly fascinated with large number of artifacts, games, such as dice, which were later excavated by archaeologists. During the Middle Age, there were number of foreign invasions in the state. Greek, Persian, Mongol and Afghan invasions had considerable influence on the cultural landscape of the state. Besides, the birth and growth of Sikhism during this period, giving a new dimension to the Punjabi culture. Today, Punjabi people are widely distributed all over the world. As a result, the traditional culture has been strengthened and expanded to the western world as well, especially US, UK and Canada.

  • Cuisine of Punjab

    Punjabis are big-time food lovers, preferring a wide variety in their menu. They are full of life and their food too reflects this liveliness. Punjabi food forms an important part of the North Indian cuisine, which appeals to the taste of many. The people in this state generally go for spicy foods and use oil and ghee to a considerably higher extent. There are no intricate marinades or exotic sauces, but an exuberant use of masalas, with a liberal addition of oil or ghee.

    The people of Punjab prefer wheat to rice; though they do have rice occasionally. In roti itself, you find such a wide variety that you are left to wonder about Punjabi cuisine's versatility. Makke ki Roti (chapati made of corn) and stuffed paranthas have wide popularity. Milk and milk products are also commonly used by the people here. Curd and butter milk are important concomitants of a Punjabi meal. Lassi, made out of curd, is a popular drink of Punjab, which satisfactorily quenches the thirst in summers.

    One can easily notice a disparity within Punjab, as per the choice of food. For instance, the people in Amritsar go for stuffed paranthas and milk products, whereas Malwa inhabitants prefer bajra khitchdi more. One thing that runs common throughout the Punjab is the wide use of onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes, as the common masala for most food items. People also regularly use garam masalas like cardamom, cinnamon, mace and bay leaf in their food preparation. Besides they usually garnish their food with finely-cut coriander leaves and juliennes of ginger..

  • Pidhis

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    At Kartarpur, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur, craftsmen and women create pidhis (low, four legged woven stools), which are both functional and artistic. In a marvelous display of skill, the pidhis are first carved out from wood, and then covered with lacquer and woven with threads of different colors. Other lacquer ware products of Punjab include table lamps, dolls, and attractive scratch work surahis. Wood workers at Hoshiarpur and Kartarpur specialize in making artistic furniture with intricate designs. In those golden days when artisans received royal patronage, the wood workers of Hoshiarpur particularly were specialists in inlaying ivory. With motifs and ornamentation drawn from life around them -Patta (leaf), dodi (bud), jhari (bush), flowers and animals and birds-the wood workers created masterpieces that found their way to the homes of those who had an eye for skill and beauty.
    Today, the march of time has taken its toll in terms of raw material-with ivory inlays being replaced by plastic. But the skills of the craftsmen continue to blossom and they turn out a remarkable range of trays, mirror frames, dressing tables, easy chairs, sofa sets, dining tables, chairs, and much else.

  • Jootis

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    Color, beauty and utility combine to form the central theme of the well-known leather jootis (shoes and slippers) of Punjab. Rich gold and multi-colored threads are used to decorate and impart a royal touch to a variety of jootis crafted from leather of different shades. In many parts of Punjab, entire families continue to devote themselves to making jootis. A good place to buy jootis is Patiala-once the proud capital of the Sikh Maharajas. One can find a stunning range of jootis embroidered with zari (gold thread), salma and tilla here.
    Muktsar, near Faridkot, is also a good center for purchasing jootis. Known for the production of two varieties-khosa and kasuri, Muktsar is home to more than 50 families who specialize in making jootis.

  • Durries

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    In the villages, women weave durries (a pile less cotton spread, which can be used on a bed or on the floor). Girls are taught the art of weaving durries at a young age. The durries are woven in different sizes, patterns-geometrical, animals, birds, leaves and flowers-and colors. Nikodar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Tarn Taran and Anandpur Sahib offer a vast variety of durries.Carpet weaving is not as widespread as the weaving of durries, but the art of weaving carpets took root long ago in Punjab, with Amritsar being one of the oldest centers of carpet weaving in the country.

  • Parandis

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    Making parandis may not be as exotic as carpet weaving, but the parandi craftspeople have refined their art and now produce wonderfully attractive parandis in a number of colors and designs Parandis can be purchased almost everywhere in Punjab, but Jalandhar, Amritsar, Nikodar, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana are amongst the places where the greatest variety can be seen.

  • Dolls

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    Rivaling the parandis in popularity, are the dolls of Punjab, especially the Punjabi bride and the bhangra (a lively fold dance) dolls. Colorful and beautifully crafted and dressed, dolls are made all over Punjab, but the most important center for doll making is Chandigarh.Both collectively and individually, the crafts of Punjab symbolize many of the strengths of the state and the feel of the people of Punjab to come up with superb combinations of color, beauty and utility bound together by the skill of the craftspeople. In the process, the buyer is served with a tasteful feast of crafts.

  • Phulkari

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    Phulkari work is one of the most fascinating expressions of the Punjabi folk art. Women have developed this art at the cost of some of their very precious moments of leisure. They have always been very fond of color and have devoted a lot of their time to colorful embroidery and knitting. It has also been customary for parents and relatives to give hand-embroidered clothes to girls in dowry. Punjabi women were known for embroidery with superb imagination. Phulkari is something of which Punjab is justly proud and is also noted as the home of this embroidered and durable product. This is a kind of women's dress used a special cover to be worn over the shirt which women traditionally don. It actually formed part of the brides trousseau and was associated with various ceremonies preliminary to the wedding during which it used to be embroidered. The cloth used for making this, is generally in red or maroon colour and the thread employed in the close embroidery is made of silk in gold, yellow, crimson red, blue and green colours.In the Phulkari work, the whole cloth is covered with close embroidery and almost no space is left uncovered. The piece of cloth thus embroidered is called baag meaning a garden. If only the sides are covered it is called chope. The back ground is generally maroon or scarlet and the silken thread used is mostly golden. Colour schemes show a rich sensitiveness. Some Phulkaris are embroidered with various motifs of birds, animals, flowers and sometimes scenes of village life.

  • Mud Works

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    There is no limit to the creativity of Punjab's craftsmen. They have this panache for turning seemingly dull materials into masterpieces of art. Take as simple a thing as mud for example. Plastering the walls with mud and drawing ferns, plants, several other fascinating motifs has been a way of life of the woman of Punjab.

  • Weaving and Embroidery

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    Weaving of Durries (cotton bed or floor spreads) in myriad motifes and designs especially by young girls in the villages has been a long tradition in Punjab. These are also woven in stripes, cheek boards, squares, motifs of birds, animals and even plants as a part of dowry. Needle work of Punjab is unique, it has beautiful names because of its associations with beautiful aspects of life and the beautiful designs which the dextrous fingers of Punjab's proverbially beautiful women create have such a wealth of forms and motifs that they defy enumeration. Some of these are called Baghs, literally a garden, Phulkaris, literally flower work, rummals, scarfs. The patterns of needle work done on the bed spreads, chunnis, dupattas (these are head covers) and shirts and Salvars, are still different. Needle work on phulkaris is done on a deep coloured cotton cloth with striking silk threads. The threads is pierced upwards from underneath the cloth into free-hand motifs, while in the Baghs and Rummals such cloth is worked on the top side only. These were traditionally used for wear but now are exported as wall hangings and sewn as jackets etc.

  • Folk Toys Making

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    The earliest hand-made toys of Punjab can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, dating from 2500 to 1700 B.C. These bear a remarkable resemblance to the traditional toys of a much later period which remained popular through the ages till recently when factory made toys found their way to the villages.The traditional toys usually depict animals, equestrian figures and wheeled vehicles, all of which, though varying in quality and intended for different purposes. They can be used as playthings by the children and as decoration pieces by the adults. Toys of cloth stuffed with cotton are still made by the women in the villages. Dolls, birds and animals are some of the common subjects. These are embellished with colorful additions of beads, buttons, feathers, tinsels and tassels and also with cowries. Sometimes the body of the toy is appliqued. The material used in this folk art reflects the dynamic spirit of improvisation. Besides their ornamental quality these toys have a sentimental value as well as emotional appeal.The popularity of the clay toys is diminishing day by day but still there are to be seen sporadic instances of miniature dolls in clay, animals and kitchen utensils, roughly colored with kharia mitti and decorated with motifs in bright colors.

  • Wood Works

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    The wood work of Punjab has also been traditionally famous. Artistic beds with comfortable, skillfully made, back rests fitted with mirrors and carved colourful legs called Pawas, low seats called Peeras, Peerian were made by carpenters in almost every village. Their skill has passed into folk songs (Raati rondi da bhij gaya Ial bhangoora) weeping last night my red Swing became drenched. Furniture designed in Punjab and boxes, toys and decorative pieces made out of wood are exported. In giving lacquer finish to wood crafts, in adorning it with colored mirror and in engraving wood, inlaying ivory (now white plastic only) the workmen of Punjab have been renowned.The onslaught of high technology is putting a premium on the arts and crafts in the modern era and it will require special efforts to preserve them for posterity.

  • Miscellaneous Crafts

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    The craftsmen of Punjab have also been making paper mache utencils for storing house hold necessities in colorful designs for a long time past, out of a paste made by mixing paper and various kinds of earth. A few decades ago, Sarcanda, a kind of tough; thick elastic grass used to grow in plenty at places, which have now come under the plough. Out of this grass roofs of all sizes are fashioned in circular shapes. After shaving, thin straws of this grass are woven into beautiful carpets and curtains.Another useful household contrivance called Chhaj in Punjabi are manufactured out of sarcanda which is used for separating edible stuff from the grain. Screens, used as a parting between wheat and hay, for instance, are also woven from this stuff. Baskets used for keeping haber dasbery (pins, cotton, buttons, needles, threads) in different shapes and colors and covers are contrived by young girls by using shaved sarcanda and colored cotton thread which are taken by them as a part of dowry. In Punjabi these are called katnees.The shavings of sarcanda chicks and colored cotton threads were also used to weave Chiks, Bohiey, Pitarian, ( household articles) and kind of chairs called Moorras. Brushes for white washing are also made by hands out of munjhs. However, these crafts of Punjab are moving fast towards falling into wilderness.

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