Research Paper Sample on Punjabi Culture

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Vanderbilt University
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Research paper
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The Punjabi society is very close knit due to the strong kinship ties that exist within it. Villages are also exogamous. Everyone has to address the people in their village with kinship terms as though they were people of one's family regardless of their caste or got (Alvi, 2007). The largest group of families that can trace their roots back to common ancestry within a caste or got in a single village is known as a patti. The most important unit of Punjabi society is the family, also known as Parivar. The roles that men and women play in Punjabi society are based upon corresponding rights and duties in terms of the kinship system, principally complementary rights over property.

Understanding Gender in Punjabi Culture

Despite the culture being particularly conservative, gender inequality marks Punjabi culture. Perceptions about the roles and expectations towards men and women differ markedly except in regions where acculturation has taken place (Ruback & Pandev, 1996). For instance, when a boy is born, the celebrations are typically more than when a girl is born. The difference in celebration suggests that perceptions towards boys and girls differ. Traditionally, girls do not get to select their marriage partner. Men, on the other hand, have a choice to either accept or turn down the bride. The grooms family was given gifts by the brides family for dowry. The woman after marriage is expected to look after the household, a role that involves looking after the house, her in-laws and her husband. Gender differences are also highlighted in education with more boys being enrolled in schools than girls due to parent preference and perception ( AMbree & Mohyuddin, 2012)

There was a difference in the entertainment that the genders could get involved. The Bhangra cultural dance was reserved for males while females danced to Giddha only. However, I have observed that Punjabi culture has evolved over the years and in the present day; Bhangra has become an enormous part of the dance for both males and females. In addition, men can now also dance to gidda (Schreffler, 2012). The gender differences did not only exist in entertainment but also work. In the past, the army was a career only for men. However, women since the 1990s are free to enlist in the army (Bal, 2006). According to research, employment rates were higher than they are today for women in the past. Gender in Punjabi society also determined land inheritance, with male being the major beneficiaries of land inheritance.

Punjabi Attire

For men, the traditional attire of people is Kurta-pyjama with turban. On the other hand, women prefer to wear Patiala suits as part of their traditional attire. However, as earlier observed, Punjabi society has evolved especially for the younger generation who prefer to keep up with the global fashion scene as represented by popular culture. Traditional Punjabi attire is rich in colors that seem to riot as in the pagdi-turban and phulkari dupattas that are revealed during the Baisakhi festival (Kaur & Sodhi, 2012). Traditionally, the Punjabi women wear the salwar-kameez and lehenga-kurta with a waistcoat has many colors and elaborate styling. For Sikhs, turbans are compulsory and fashion has seen many styles emerge. For Punjabi girls, the dupatta which is a part of the Punjabi dress plays a significant part in their lives. The dupatta is perceived to boost the elegance and gravity of the Punjabi women, being part of the Salwar Kameez- a Punjabi dress that is incomplete without it. Fashion shows have been organized to showcase the elegance of the dupatta indicating its importance. Punjabis are renowned for their sense of fashion and need to keep up to date on fashion essentials.

Art, Dancing, and Singing in Punjabi Culture

In Punjabi society, it is the norm to dance and sing in ceremonies and festivals. Everyone is expected to take part in the singing and dancing. Bhangra is a popular dance form in Punjab. The loud drumming from the dholak gets people to dance animatedly to the music. Giddha is also a popular dance that is now done by both men and women too. Women sing and dance to Bolis. Jhumar, Dhankara and Gatka are also popular forms of dance among the Punjabi. Regardless of age, religion or gender, Punjabis find enjoyment in dancing and singing to mark festivity. Folk music is popular in Punjabi culture and the most commonly used musical instruments are the dholak and dhol drum (Abbas, 2012). At weddings, the songs played range from emotional interludes to very lively beats. The wedding songs also employ humor. Punjabis also enjoy art and craft. Women weaved woolen attire that has intricate designs for the family. Silk shawls are carefully hand-woven and utilizing traditional motifs as designs. Phulkari is an example of the intricacy of Punjabi work. Lacquer work, wooden work, Calico painting, paper mache` are also popular in Punjab (Abbas, 2012).

Culture is important for me because it gives me a sense of belonging. Culture also contributes to defining my identity. With a clear identity, I am ready to face the world and can undergo new experiences. Whenever I see elements of culture that reflect Punjabi, I feel good because I identify with the culture as it defines a significant part of who I am. In addition, the component of Punjabi culture that is focused on enjoying life makes my life more interesting.



Alvi, A. (2007). India and the Muslim Punjab: a unified approach to South Asian kinship. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(3), 657-678.

Ambreen, M., & Mohyuddin, A. (2012). Cultural Portrait of Women in a Punjabi Village (Perception of People Regarding Gender Roles and Literacy). International Journal of Arts and Commerce, 1(4), 76-86.

Abbas, S. (2012). Punjabi Complex: An Introduction. Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal, 43(2).

Bal, G. (2006). Construction of Gender and Religious Identities in the First Punjabi Novel "Sundari". Economic and political weekly, 3528-3534.

Kaur, G., & Sodhi, G. P. S. (2014). Traditional Phulkari: A Successful Enterprise for Rural Women in Patiala. Journal of Krishi Vigyan, 3(1), 84-87.

Kenney, Michael G. & Kirsten Smillie. 2015. Stories of Culture & Place: An Introduction to Anthropology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Ruback, R. B., & Pandey, J. (1996). Gender Differences in Perceptions of Household Crowding: Stress, Affiliation, and Role Obligations in Rural India1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26(5), 417-436.

Schreffler, G. (2012). Migration Shaping Media: Punjabi Popular Music in a Global Historical Perspective. Popular Music and Society, 35(3), 333-358.

Singh, K. (2004). A History of the Sikhs: 1839-2004 (Vol. 2). Oxford University Press.


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