Pakistan is the cradle of Indus Valley Civilization, civilisation that is spread over more than 4000 years of history. Archaeological excavations here have revealed evidence of the meticulously planned cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro that lived and died along the banks of the mighty Indus and its tributaries. The ancient Hindu epics narrate life between the 7th and 5th century BC which carry rich descriptions of the land and people of Indus at that time. These relics throw light on the culture and changing architectural styles of Punjab since the Harappan age. At Taxila near Islamabad, sites associated with great Gandhara Civilization yielded remarkable relics that showcase the magnificient age of Buddhism in the region.
But along with its magnificent past, the rural life in present day Pakistan is as rich even today as it used to be before. The lush green crops which ripen in summer to yield golden harvests, fruit laden orchards which bear delicious fruits similar to those of the paradise and above all a mouth watering food that makes many a chefs to envy. The luscious fruits are so dominant in Punjab’s rural culture that a special variety of mangoes is called Samr-e-Bahisht, literally meaning the fruit of the paradise.
The Punjabi folk in Pakistani rural scene are extrovert; sociable guys who like to eat well and dress well. Even in a tight spot, a Punjabi youth would like to twirl his moustache and say “Khair ae” (am quite well”) to those who ask how he’s getting on. He learns quickly and assimilates new cultures without difficulty; family honour is sacrosanct to Punjabi’s, but in other matters they tend to be liberal. It is a matter of pride to be “up to date”. Their enterprise and capacity to work hard are legendary and it’s a deep ambition of Punjabi guys to “be one’s own boss”: many an émigré Punjabi have started life in a strange land driving a cab or working in a café and gone on to buy out the owner within a couple of years.
The traditional Punjabi shoes, called juttis or khussas retain their popularity with rural folk; they are both elegant and comfortable. Bahawalpur, Sargodha and Hazro in Attock district are famous for khussas. The women in Punjabi villages dress in shalwar topped by a kameez (a garment that can be fitted like a dress loose like the kurta) and accented by a rectangular scarf about 2.5 metres long called the duppatta . She’s fond of her sweaters, but passionately proud of her collection of woolen shawls. Gold is the weakness of Punjabi women – brides are loaded with it. The jewelers of Punjab, stock an enormous range of designs in bangles, necklaces, rings and earrings, nose-pins, ornaments to pin in the hair, anklets and toe-rings.
Culturally, Pakistan’s rural folk enjoy a seemingly happy and contented life. Not that they tend to be passive and lack initiative. On the other hand our rural folk are more energetic and struggle minded than their city dwelling counterparts.