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Prayer Profile
The Eastern Punjabi of India


The term "Punjabi" is used to describe both those who speak Punjabi and those who inhabit the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It is derived from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (river). Punjabi is an Indo-European language having six main dialects. The Eastern Panjabi language is most closely associated with the Sikhs. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.)

The Punjab region is an ancient center of civilization that has been the main route of invasion and migration into India. Its chief historic cities are Lahore, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, and Patiala.

Modern Punjabi culture was largely shaped by the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. This resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, and millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan. The divergent government policies have had major effects on every area of their lives.

What are their lives like?
The Punjab has long been one of the world's most important agricultural regions. About 70% of the Punjabi live in rural areas and work as farmers. The principal crops are cotton and wheat, which grow easily in the dry climate. Cotton is the primary cash crop, grown mainly for export.

Punjabi villages consist of houses that are built closely together. The outer walls of the homes are joined together, protecting them from outsiders. Entrance into the village is through a stone gateway, or durwaza, which arches over the main road. It serves as an important meeting place for villagers, as well as a favorite stopping place for visiting craftsmen and merchants. Urban areas have a full range of occupations, including shopkeepers, teachers, tailors, postmen, religious professionals, and medical practitioners.

In traditional Punjabi culture, the men are responsible for overseeing the family possessions such as land, shops, or other business assets. The women are responsible for overseeing the homes. They cook, care for the children, manage the household finances, and take care of any domestic animals.

The Punjabi are divided into "castes" (social classes) called jati. Caste divisions vary according to region, but they generally range from the upper castes of Brahmans (priests and scholars) to the lowest caste of laborers and servants. Various artisan castes include skilled carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, barbers, and weavers. The jati are further divided into clans, villages, and families.

Marriage is an important institution among all Punjabi religious groups. Traditionally, the bride lives with her husband in his village and house. Parents sometimes still arrange marriages, but this is rarely done without consulting those involved. Wedding ceremonies differ by caste and religion. Generally, they are symbolic of the ideal that a marriage is a free gift from the bride's family to the groom. The bride's family usually pays all the wedding expenses. Often her family provides substantial gifts (a dowry) for her to take to her new home.

The Punjabi have no overall system of social control. Instead, each institution (such as businesses, homes, religious or political organizations) has its own set of laws and disciplinary measures. It is commonly said among the Punjabi that "land, women, and water are the sources of all conflicts." This simply means that every man deems it necessary to control the means by which he perpetuates his family and property.

What are their beliefs?
The majority of the Eastern Punjabi are Sikhs. There is also a significant number of Hindus. Rural Punjabi—of all faiths—share some traditional ceremonies, particularly those associated with village life, the changing of seasons, birth, marriages, and death.

What are their needs?
Major Christian resources are available in the Eastern Punjabi language, the complex nature of Indian society makes church planting a difficult task. Prayer is needed to break down the barriers of resistance that separate the Punjabi from the Truth.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Eastern Punjabi.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Eastern Punjabi bound.
  • Pray that churches will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Punjabi.
  • Pray that the Punjabi believers will rise to the challenge of taking the Gospel to their people.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of India through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Punjabi who will boldly declare the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong churches among the Eastern Punjabi.

See also the following related groups:
the Punjabi Cluster;
the Mirpur Punjapi of India; the Southern Punjabi of Pakistan; the Western Punjabi of Afghanistan; the Punjabi of Kenya and Pakistan.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Eastern Punjabi
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Panjabi
  • Population: (1990) 34,358,300
    (1995) 37,795,800
    (2000) 41,280,700
  • Largest religion: Sikh 70%
    Hindu 28%
    Muslim (Hanafite) 0.5%
  • Christians: >1%
  • Church members: 411,975
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 12
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 22,711,500 (60%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,679,700 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 20,031,800 (53%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 15,084,300 (40%)
  • Country: India
  • Population: (1990) 850,638,100
    (1995) 935,744,300
    (2000) 1,022,021,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Hindi (High Hindi) 9.5%
    Telegu 7.8%
    Maratha 7.4%
    Bengali 6.4%
    Hindi (Bazaar, Popular) 5.5%
  • Major religions: Hindus 78.2%
    Muslims 12%
    Christians 4.3%
  • Number of denominations: 163

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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