PUNJAB

Punjab is the land of five rivers (Punj= five) (aab= water). This fertile land is home to the hard- working, fun- loving, ubiquitous Punjabi.


Through the centuries, it has borne the brunt of invasions and wars and more recently, the trauma of India's partition. Each time the people have risen, confident and optimistic. Fiercely patriotic, they take great pride in volunteering for the armed forces in large numbers.


Punjabis are extremely industrious and understand the dignity of labour, making this one of the most prosperous states in India. The resultant affluence is delightfully evident in the vallages- neat roads, brick and mortar ('pucca') houses with TV aerials stuck atop their roofs and Maruti cars parked next to the tractors. The women love to dress up in clothes lined with shimmering gold and silver threads (gota).

The colossal 226- metre high Bhakra Dam, the highest in the country, has been described as a 'temple of morden India'. It provides water and electricity to the state, and has helped the farmer rise to his full potential and usher in the green revolution. Initially, only a wheat- growing region, Punjab is now a major rice producer as well.

The Sikh faith came into being in Punjab. To the Hindus and Sikhs, Amritsar is synonymous with the holiest shrine of Sikhism, the Harmandir Sahib of Golden Temple. It calls to the devotee in all corners of the world. A double- storey marble structure, its dome is covered with gold, as indeed are those of many Sikh temples (gurdwaras) all over the country. This is due to the devotion of the people for whom offering a part of their earnings is very important. Manual labour or 'Karseva' is another very important offering. It may be in the form of sweeping and washing the temple premises, cooking or actually bricklaying and building the Place.

Ludhiana is famous for its woolens. Big and small business houses abound, all making the softest of woolens for the fashionable. And 'Made in Ludhiana' is a mark of excellence. Bicycles, on which millions of Indians depend, are also made here by the world's largest manufacturer of bicycles, Hero Cycles.

The state produces 10per cent of the milk in the country, though having only 1.5 percent of the land. The robust Punjabi loves milk, butter and giant- sized glass of lassi' (yoghurt churned with water and flavoured with salt, cumin seed powder and coriander leaves). He also loves to eat his 'maa- dee- daal', 'sarson- da -saag' and 'makki- dee- roti'. There is no point in describing these. One has to have them served piping hot at any of the multitude of roadside open- air cafes called 'dhaabas'.


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