The State of Punjab is located in North-West of India at 35° Latitude and 74° Longitude, blessed with plain and fertile soil receiving an average annual rainfall of 503 mm.
Temperatures range between 5°C in winter to 38°C in summer.
Punjab is divided into 17 districts. All towns and villages are electrified and well- connected. Of the 4.2 million hectares of fertile land, almost 90% is irrigated by a vast network of tube-wells and canals. The state also produces 22% of the country's wheat, 9% of rice and 6% of cotton.
Farmers enjoy cheap credit, mostly from co-operative banks and these co-operatives are taking rapid strides to serve people in different spheres like agriculture, industry, housing, spinning, weaving, dairying and sugar production.
Agricultural produce like sugarcane, cotton, oil-seeds, spices, fruits and vegetables, dairy, poultry and livestock are all available in plenty for processing in agro-based industries.
On the industrial front, Punjab averages a healthy 8% annual growth. With a high level of literacy, the people of the State enjoy the highest per capita income in India.
The people of Punjab invite you to share their prosperity. The Punjabi people are warm, hospitable, pulsating with energy and progressive. Although Punjabi is the official language, Hindi and English are widely spoken by one and all.
Steeped in history and secularism, there is a hero in every village and town. It is these virtues that have made Punjab the largest surplus State in foodgrains and producer of high tech items.
The people represent tremendous marketing opportunities for manufacturers of consumer and non-consumer goods. There is a potential not only for engineering, electronics, consumer goods, light and heavy machinery industry but various other categories as well.
Punjab is the wellspring of Indian culture. Traditional
literature the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Puranas, the
Vedas, all take us back to Punjab. Archaeolgiststs find the
earliest evidence of recognisably Indian civilisation in the
excavation of Punjab's Harappan sites. The uninterrupted
continuity of Indian culture flows forth from ancient
Artifacts dating back to the Pleistocene Age have been found
in the valley of Kangra, Pehalgam, and Hoshiarpur. These
finds testify to the cultural unity extending to the whole
of the region. The Harappa-Ropar and Sanghol civilisations
were the outcome of the culture that developed over a vast
area. The Harappan civilisation perhaps was overwhelmed by
the village folk, who, although did not belong to a
different culture, represented a different pattern of life.
There is no conclusive evidence to prove that the authors of
the Rig Veda came to the land of seven rivers from any
outside country. The whole complex of Rigvedic hymns shows
them settled in this region from the outset and considering
it their sacred land and original home .
Sage Priyamedha Sindhukshit in the famous ‘Hymn of Rivers" (Nadi-stuti)
after invoking the favour of rivers soars to a high pitch of
exultation in his reference to the Sindhu. He clearly states
that his ancestors were the inhabitants of the land through
which the river flowed from ages immemorial,
The Vedic and the later Epic periods of the Punjab were
socially and culturally the most prolific. The Rig Veda was
During the period quite a number of centres learning and
culture were established. Panini and Vishnu Gupta were
associated with this.religion , Philosophy, grammer, law,
astrology, medicine and warfare were taught . Yasak’s
Nirkuta and Panini’s Ashtadhyayi are those classic creations
of which help us to understand the language and culture of
the ancient Punjab.
The field of action of the Ramayana is believed to be
outside the Punjab but the tradition maintains that Valmiki
composed the Ramayana near the present Amritsar city and
Kaikeyee belonged to this region.
The advent of Buddhism saw Punjab become, more than ever, a
cultural crossroad. A few years before the birth of Buddha
(556 BC), the armies of Darius I, king of Persia, had swept
across Punjab and made the area a protectorate of Persian
empire. This was a fruitful interaction that ripened into
the cultured and sophisticated cities of Gandhara (present
day northern Pakistan-southern Afghanistan). To the
Buddhists Punjab was Uttar Path – the way to the North, to
the valleys of Afghanistan, and further on to Central Asia
and China. In 327 BC Alexander invaded Punjab, defeating
Raja Paurava (Porus). The centuries that followed brought
more incursions from the north but the Indian response was
vigorous. This happened during the rules of the Mauryas, the
Sungas, the Guptas and the Pushpabhuti.
A glimpse into the lives and culture of the people of
Punjab can be got through the folk idiom of Punjab. There is
a great repertoire of music, right from the time of birth to
death, of love and separation of dance and rejoicement, of
marriage and fulfilment. Culturally Punjab can be divided
into three riegions, Malwa, Majha and Doaba. Today Malwa
represents the true spirit of Punjabi folk traditions. The
Punjabi fold idiom is so rich, so varied and so very
versatile. It is a culture of generous, vast, large hearted
people which is devoid of any fanaticism and religious
narrow mindedness of ideology.
If we go deep into the folk music of the land, it is
difficult to classify it. But perhaps we can draw board
divisions for every season, every festive occasion has music
associated with it. Even food is associated with a change in
season. The festivals of Punjab are numerous. Lohri is the
time after which the biting cold of winter begins to taper
off. In the olden days, it was more of a community festival,
where the birth of a son, the first year of marriage was
celebrated all through the village in front of the sacred
fire. Songs like 'Sunder mundriye, tera kaun vichara, Dulla
Bhathi Wala.'were sung to the beat of virourous claps.
Groups of little children would go singing round the village
collecting 'gur' and 'rewari' for themselves. 'Lohri' was
preceded by Maagh and the famous Maaghi Da Mela, and
followed by Baisakhi, where the Bhangra was danced by the
men of the Village.
An energetic dance associated witht the ripening of crops,
performed by the menfolk of the villages. The dance
manifests the vigour and vitality and exuberance of the
people, in anticipation of money coming in after the cutting
of a good harvest. Then comes the season of the monsoon, or
'sawan' when the married girls come home for a vacation,
meet their old friends, wear the colourful Phulkaris, swing
under the trees, adorn themselves with 'mehndi patterns',
and glass bangles and exchange news, singing songs. 'Ni Lia
De Mai, Kallean Bagaan Di Mehandi'. No occasion goes off
without the association of music in Punjab. Right from the
moment a woman announces the news of the conception of a
baby, songs start. The third month, the fifth month, and
then of the actual birth of baby is associated with joyous
songs about the impending arrival. There are songs which
tell about the love of a brother or a sister. Once a
marriage is finalised, and preparations of the marriage
start in the boy's and girl's family.
For the process of washing and cleaning the grain, of making
new clothes, and household items, songs are sung by the
woman in the family as they work through the night, that the
'dhol' is not used as the menfolk who are sleeping should
not have their sleep disturbed. And then the numerous songs
associated with the wedding. In the girls side 'Suhag' is
sung, and in the boy;s
side, songs while he mounts the mare, 'Sehra' and 'Ghodi'
are sung. When the two sides meet 'Sithaniyan' are
exchanged. A kind of raunchy humour which makes it easier
for both the the parties to show off their wit and repartee
and also provides an opportunity to get to know each other.
After the Barat is received 'Patal Kaavya' is sung after tea
and while the 'Barat' is eating food together. Jugni, Sammi
are basically songs centring around love, in the Jugni
normally the bachelors gather
together and sing about their beloved. The Sammi is more a
gypsy dance, which is performed as an expression of joy and
victory, around the fire at night. Sammi is an imaginary
female character of folk poetry, belonging to the Marwar
area of Rajasthan who fell in love with the the young
prince, and it is around their love story that the music and
dance is set to. In the list of happy songs are included,
Luddie, Dhamal and of course the Giddha and the Bhangra,
which is all set to music,
which is typical of Punjab. Along with the 'Dhol' primarily,
are sung 'Bolis' which can be divided into two categories,
'singly boli' and' lengthy boli'. Centering around
mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law and other
character from everyday life the music of these two lively
traditions is extremely enervating.
Being a frontier state war played an important part in the
lives of the people of Punjab. There was also a tradition of
wrestlers living in every village, and while they practised
at the 'Akhara' a music grew around their practice called 'akhara
singing'. The drum plays a very important part in the folk
music of Punjab. It provides the basic accompaniment to most
of folk music. The 'Dhol' and 'Dholik', the male and female
drum, had it's own relevant use. The information of an
impending army was communicated by the sound of the 'Dhol',
when information was given to the neighboring villages
through a particular beat. The instruments used in Punjabi
folk are typical to the region. The 'toombi', 'algoza', 'chheka',
'chimta', 'kaanto', daphali', dhad' and 'manjira' are some
of the popular traditional folk instruments.
There are songs which are specific to death. Called 'Siapah',
there are different kinds of 'siapah'. Special to
individuals, the song of mourning deal with the loss of a
brother, sister, mother, father, mother-in-law,
father-in-law, and are sung in a particular format.
As in the rest of the country Sikh religion is deeply
connected with music. In fact a glossary of music and Ragas
are given at the end of the Guru Granth Sahib, the tradition
starting with Mardana, who accompanied Guru Nanak on his
travels who sang the bani of Guru Nanak with an ‘ektaara’
and the ‘rhubarb’. Classical ragas are used in the ‘shabad
kirtan’, gayaki of Punjab. The sixth Guru Hargobind gave
patrongae to sect of singers who sang only martial songs.
Called ‘Dhadis’, they sing at shrines and festivals,
ballads, vars, and about the heroic feats of the Sikhs.
Along with the "Dhad" the ‘dhadi’ also uses a sarangi, as a
A strong tradition of the ‘kissa sahity’ of Punjab is very
much part and parcel of Punjabi folk music. The legends of
Heer Ranjha , Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnu, Puran Bhagat are
sung more in a semi classical style. The Punjabi ‘kaffi and
kali’ are part of this genre. Related to this is the
‘sufiana kallam’ of Punjab as a result of a strong Sufi
tradition in the state. The Heer in particular has a strong
Later in the eighteenth and nineteenth century there started
in Punjab a strong school of classical music centring around
Patiala known today as the Patiala Gharana. The founders of
this gahrana were Ustaad Ali Bux and Ustaad Fateh Ali who
were great singers in the Patiala Darbar. Their disciples
and admirers were numerous. Notable amongst them were Ustad
Bade Ghulam Ali and his brother Barkat Ali who brought the
Patiala Gharana on the forefront of Khayal gayaki. And thus
started the ‘chau-mukhia’ style, which included dhrupad,
khyal thumri and the taraana. Each of these styles too have
their particular flavour, the energy and zest of the soil of
Punjab. Highly decorated, Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
composed numerous ‘bandishes’ or compositions under the
penname of Sabarang. Parallel to this was the growth of a
gharana of tabla playing which is also known as the Punjab
style, of which Alla Rakha the great tabla maestro belongs.
What has been written about is just a broad canvas of
Punjab. Every village of Punjab has somethings typical of
the soil. Over the years the success of the green
revolution, with large mustard fields, and ‘kanak da sitta’
or the grains of wheat, along with the disco culture has
provided a ‘purdah’ or a covering over the varied tradition
of folk music of Punjab. For any discerning appreciator of
music, Punjab provided enough for every occasion and every
season, completely obliterating the statement that Punjab is
a land of "agriculture and no culture". Culture lives and
ves in Punjab in spite of its stormy past.
celebrates the harvest and is associated with the festival
of Baisakhi (April 13) when the sight of
tall heaps of
golden wheat fill the farmer’s heart with joy. To the
accompaniment of large drums called dhols, he and his fellow
villagers circle round and round in a leaping, laughing
caper. It’s a dance that cuts across all divisions of class
and education. At marriages, parties, or celebrations of any
sort, it is quite common for men to break out in Bhangra.
There are few sights more cheering than that of a dignified
elder in three-piece suit getting up to join the young
fellows for a moment of bhangra revelry.
Women have a different but no less exuberant dance called
gidda. The dancers enact verses called bolis, which
represent folk poetry at its best. The subject matter of
these bolis is wide ranging indeed – everything from
arguments with the sister-in-law to political affairs figure
in these lively
songs. Aside from the drums, the rhythm of
this dance is set by the distinctive hand-claps of the
This dance has originally come from Sandalbar (now in
Pakistan), but is now very much a part of Punjab folk
heritage. It is a dance of graceful gait, based on specific
Jhumar rhythm. Dancers circle around the drummer, and keep
up a soft, sibilant chorus as they dance.
Luddi is a victory-dance recognisable by the swaying
movements of the head. Its costume is a simple loose shirt.
The performers place one hand at the back and the other
before the face; the body movement is sinuous, snake-like.
This is also danced with the drummer in the centre.
This dance associated with Muslim holymen called pirs
and is generally danced in their hermitages (khangahs). This
dance is mostly performed in sitting posture, sometimes it
is also danced around the grave of a preceptor. A single
dancer can also perform this dance. Normally the dancer
Also called the gaatka dance, this is a dance of
celebration. Two men, each holding colourful staves, dance
round each other and tap their sticks together in rhythm
with the drums. This dance is often part of marriage
Similar to bhangra and is danced by men in a circle.
Traditionally by women of the Sandalbar region, now in
Pakistan. The dancers are dressed in bright coloured kurtas
and full flowing skirts called lehengas. A peculiar silver
hair ornament is associated with this dance.
Literally, "wake up!" When there’s a marriage in the
house, girls dance through the village streets carrying a
pot (gaggar) decorated with lightened candles and singing
jaagu songs. The theme of song in the ‘Jago’ is social and
typically a bit of teasing (often aimed at elders) goes with
This dance is performed by women in pairs. They cross
their arms, hold each other’s hands and whirl around singing
folk songs. Sometimes four girls join hands to perform this
Martial art of Nihang Sharmas.
The government and administration in Punjab are organised on
the same lines as in other states of India. The legislative
wing of the State is the House of People or the Vidhan Sabha.
Punjab has an unicameral legislature, having abolished the
upper house, the Vidhan Parishad in the ‘60s. The chief
minister and members of his cabinet are members of the
legislature and they are at the top of the executive wing of
the government and are accountable to the legislature. As
elsewhere, the MLAs, or Members of the Legislative Assembly,
wield considerable influence over policy-making and
implementation, more so because they are members of District
level Planning and Grievance Committees set up by the
government in each district.
The system of local government consists of Municipal
Corporations, Municipalities, and Notified Area Committees
in urban areas. Their main source of revenue is octroi and
their main administrative functions are conservancy, local
health laws, and approving building plans in their local
jurisdiction, In rural areas, there is the usual set up of
village panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads
though, in practice, they do not wield administrative or
legal powers of any consequence. Unlike in states such as
Karnataka or Maharashtra, local government cannot be said to
be highly developed in Punjab.
The judiciary and the executive are separated in Punjab
as in other states in the country. However, the state shares
a common High Court with the state of Haryana and the Union
Territory of Chandigarh.
Tips for People Who are New to Punjab
All offices of the Punjab government and most of its
undertakings work a five-day week. The working hours are 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break from 1.30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to every Saturday and Sunday, Government offices
are closed on all national holidays like Independence Day,
Republic Day and also on local holidays. It is advisable to
familiarize oneself with the list of local holidays, best
done by getting a copy of the Punjab government’s official
calendar, available with the government Public Relations
Department. It is useful to note that when two or three
weekdays are official holidays, little work may get
transacted, because many government officials, particularly
at junior ranks, take an additional day or two off, to make
the entire week a vacation.
The names, addresses , residential and official telephone
numbers of all important government offices and officials
are listed in an official telephone directory issued by the
government Public Relations Department.
Although all important policies and policy changes are
announced by the government through the press, it is useful
to consult the official gazette, which also contains details
of policies and rules framed by the government, from time to
The state government has set up a number of committees in
which businessmen are associated for their views on policies
and implementation. These cover a vast range of subjects
such as fixation of minimum wages of labour, incentives for
industry and so on. Information regarding specific
industries is available from the Industries Department or
from the resident commissioner of the Punjab Government in