Introduction / History
The name "Punjabi" is used to describe both those who speak Punjabi and those who inhabit the Punjab region in India and Pakistan. Punjabi is an Indo-European language that is divided into six main dialects. Those in Saudi Arabia speak the Eastern Punjabi dialect.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Modern Punjabi culture was largely shaped by the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. This event resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. In general, the Muslim Punjabis live in Pakistan, while the Hindu or Sikhs are in India. One can also find large Punjabi communities in nearly thirty other countries including Saudi Arabia.
While the living conditions of the Punjabis differ from country to country, they have kept much of their traditional culture and language. Though the language is still Punjabi, there are cultural differences between each of the three religious affiliations.
Punjabi immigrants have taken on a variety of occupations. Many have excelled as mechanics, construction workers, and business professionals. Others have found work in retail and trade, particularly through small family businesses. There are many who work in the oil industry in Saudi Arabia.
Punjabis often say that their conflicts arise from "land, women, and water." This means they deem it necessary to control the means by which a person perpetuates his family and property. This kind of thinking affects the Diaspora Punjabis, though they are unlikely to be landowners in other countries.
In traditional Muslim Punjabi culture, the men oversee the family possessions such as land, shops or other business assets. The women manage the homes. They cook, care for the children, manage the household finances, and take care of any domestic animals.
Among the diaspora Punjabis, newly married couples set up their homes wherever they choose. Parents still arrange marriages most of the time, but this involves extensive discussions.
There are a number of Punjabi emigrant communities scattered around the world, including Canada. They are traditionally Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. Most of those in Canada are Sikh and they are well-established in that country.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Diaspora Punjabi reflect the three major religions of their homeland: Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism. Those in Saudi Arabia are usually Sunni Muslim, like their Saudi hosts.
What Are Their Needs?
"Sunni," is derived from the Islamic term, sunnah, which means "well-trodden path." Sunnis believe that the correct path is that of the majority. They believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.
Although there are many Christian resources available in the Punjabi language, very few Muslim Punjabi have been reached with the gospel. There is a great need for church planting teams to begin focusing on the Punjabi.
Pray for the Punjabi people in Saudi Arabia to have hearts that are open to the abundant blessings of Jesus Christ.
Pray for their families to prosper financially and spiritually as they experience a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Punjabi people in Saudi Arabia that will spread joy, peace, and salvation.
Pray for the Punjabi culture to be renewed and enhanced by a work of the Holy Spirit and shaped into a God-centered and God-honoring mold.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among Punjabi family and community leaders to seek his face and enjoy his blessings.
Scripture Prayers for the Punjabi in Saudi Arabia.