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Punjab, Birthplace of the Sikhs
Living Sikhi - Lesson Fifteen






Lesson Objectives:

1  To learn the meaning of the name "Punjab" and the names of the five rivers of the region.

2  To know the geographical boundaries of the region, the climate, and the crops grown there.

3  To know about some of the cultural influences.


Teachers, ask the students to say the Sikh greeting with you; then fold hands and do simran with the students. The students should all have recited the Mool Mantar and the first pauri of Japji Sahib. If not, complete this task.

Guru Nanak was born and died in Punjab, a vast region of northern India and modern-day Pakistan where the Punjabi language is spoken. Guru Nanak recited poetry and shabads in this language of the people. The word "Punjab" means Land of Five Rivers - "panj" means five and "ab" means water in Persian (Farsi).

The five rivers of Punjab are the Sutlej, Beas, Raavi, Chenab and Jhelum. These rivers merge at various points and then join the "Sindh" (in Punjabi) River, or "Indus" (in English), from which the name India derives.

The geographical boundaries of Punjab are:

  • North/Northeast - the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayas (the highest mountains in the world), and beyond to Tibet/ China.

  • Northwest - the tribal areas of the somewhat lower mountain ranges called the Hindu Kush, through which is the famous Khyber Pass and beyond to Afghanistan.

  • Southwest and South -  the deserts of Sind and the state of Rajasthan.

  • East/Southeast - the Jamna/ Ganges Rivers, Delhi and the state of Uttar Pradesh

The climate in April, May and June is hot and dry. Dust storms and temperatures up to 115· F (46· C) are not uncommon. July and August are the months of the monsoon rains. The months of September through March are more temperate and pleasant, although December and January temperatures can dip to 35· (2· C) at night.

The soil is loamy and very fertile because of the riverbeds having moved back and forth for thousands of years, depositing nutrients. Some parts of Punjab, especially in the south Punjab were desert-like until irrigated by the canals running from the Bhakra Dam, built in 1963 across the Sutlej River.

Two crops a year can be grown. Wheat is harvested in April, and cotton is picked in November/ December. Mustard greens, vegetables, corn, sugar cane and basmati rice are also grown.     

An advanced civilization called the Harappan was there over 5,000 years ago. Countless invaders poured through the Khyber Pass and onto the flat plains of Punjab over thousands of years. Aryans, Scythians, Macedonians (famously Alexander the Great), Turks, Afghans, Moghuls and British, all left their cultural, culinary (food) and religious footprints.

The New Year is celebrated on April 13th, Vaisakhi. The moon calendar is generally used.

The Land of Five Rivers has had many political boundaries within it over thousands of years. There were many kingdoms - ancient and modern, until 1947 when India and Pakistan became independent from the British, the last of the foreign rulers. That is when Punjab was divided into West (went to Pakistan because most of the people were Muslim) and East (went to India because most of the people were Sikhs and Hindus). The Sikhs lived on both sides then, and almost all now live on the Indian side. Parts of East Punjab were later divided into the states of Haryana in the southeast and Himachal Pradesh in the northeast, leaving a smaller present-day Punjab.


Using the information on these pages, make 20 flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the other. Memorize the answers to these questions. In a few weeks, your teacher will provide you an opportunity to quiz one another on this information.

If your parents allow you, you may look up more about Punjab history in the library or on the internet.


Shabad: Sa rasna dhan dhan hai

Alternate Shabad: Lakh Khushiaan Patshaa-i-aan


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Living Sikhi - Lesson Fifteen"

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