The culture of the Punjab encompasses the spoken language, written literature, cuisine, science, technology, military warfare, architecture, traditions, values and history of the Punjabi people. The term ‘Punjabi’ can mean both a person who lives in Punjab and also a speaker of the Punjabi language. This name originates from the Persian language ‘panj’, (five), and ‘ab’, (water). Combined together the word becomes Panjab or Punjab-land of the five rivers. Indus River (the largest river in this five river system), and the five other rivers to the south eventually join Indus or merge into it later in the downstream of the Punjab valley. All the rivers start and flow out of the Himalayas. These other five rivers are Jhelum River, Chenab River, Ravi River, Beas River and Sutlej River.
The culture of Punjab in the Middle Ages was extremely diverse dependent upon an individual’s caste, community, religion and village. An array of cultures can be found historically. The main cultures that arose in the Punjab during the Medieval Age at the beginning of this era was of strong Indo-Aryan dominance. The Brahmins and Khatris were once a singular group living in the Punjab who practiced Hinduism. They were descended from the Vedic people who brought Indo-European language and society to a land dominated by Dravidian history. Their culture was based on their religious beliefs, which could be described as identical to that of Hindus living across North India today. The second strongest emergent cultural identity was Jat and Gujjar culture, based on pastoralism, agriculture and ancestor worship, in modern Punjab. Most of the Western region are descended from Gujjars, whereas the Eastern region is ethnically Jat. Over centuries, Islamic traditions were incorporated into the lives of Punjabi Muslims. These people would often live together marrying others like them and the customs practised centuries ago are still visible in the way all the castes and religious groups live.
Due to the large number of Punjabi people distributed throughout the world, especially Pakistan and India, many people are increasingly experiencing the culture and becoming influenced by it. Glimpses of traditional Punjabi culture can be seen in the Western world(e.g. the U.S., the UK, the EU, Canada, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Naturally people influence each other wherever they settle and live. Punjabi culture is evident from Punjabi philosophy, poetry, spirituality, education, artistry, music, cuisine, and architecture in all the
Similar migrations by or invasions into the Punjab, in the past many centuries, were by the Aryans, Scythians, Greeks or Alexander the Greatwhich reached as far as the Beas River in the Punjab, Mongols Arabs, Persians, Afghans, Turko-Persians (Mughals) and then the Europeans (British) came to Punjab for various economic reasons of their own and its fertile agricultural lands and abundance of water resources in its five large rivers flowing down from the Himalayas through the Punjab valley. These immigrants influenced the people of Punjab and, in turn, were influenced by the then prevailing culture of the Punjab.