1. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
Culture in Malaysia
• Originating from the Punjab region in India and Pakistan
• first came to Malaysia in the 19th century as British political prisoners
• second wave was brought in by the British to serve as policemen for the British Straits
Settlement communities and as night watchmen for industries.
• Majority of Punjabi in Malaysia practices Sikhism, which was founded by Guru Nanak
• holy book is Guru Granth Sahib
• A small number of them are Muslim and Hindus
• Sikhism is a religion that was founded in northern India during the 16th century
• Sikhism stresses the importance of devotion, intense faith in the guru, the repetition of their
god's name as a means of salvation or moksha (release into god's love), opposition to the
worship of idols, the brotherhood of all men, and rejection of caste (pattern of social classes
in Hinduism) system.
• The most common symbol of all Sikhs is uncut hair (including beards for men) and turbans
and the Five emblems or the 5Ks (kakkar):
1. Hair and beards unshorn (kesh). Hair is not only regarded as a symbol of saintliness or
holiness, but also as a proof of living in harmony with the Will of God.
2. kangha or the comb is a necessary adjunct for the hair. It should be on hand to keep the
hair neat and tidy
3. wear a steel bracelet (kara) on their right wrist as a symbol of poverty and pledge to their
4. wear kachha or kachhahra, the knee-length breeches meant to cover the private parts
of the body. It is a symbol of moral restraint and conjugal fidelity
5. always carry the kirpan or sword to defend and protect the dignity or honour of others
Belief and Taboo
• Punjabi Sikhs believe in one god who cannot take human form
• Sikhs share with Hinduism a belief in karma, reincarnation and ultimate unreality of the world
• Punjabi has its origin in the eleventh century and is the successor of Sauraseni Prakrit. It is
an ancient language that has an Indo-European origin.
• The written language of Sikhs is called Gurmukhi.
• The written language of Punjabi Hindus is Hindi.
• The written language of Muslim Sikhs might be either Punjabi or Urdu.
Vaisakhi or Baisakhi
• It occurs during 13 April every year and traditionally concurs in Punjab with the first
harvesting of the crops for the year.
• since 1699, it had marked the very significant religious event of the creation of the Khalsa, the
Order of Pure Ones.
2. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
• It was the day, Guru Gobind Singh initiated and baptised 5 devoted Sikhs to be the
embodiment of the Guru himself.
• Vaisakhi falls in the Nanakshahi calendar on the first day of Vaisakh month and marks the
sun's entering Mesha Rasi (this fact is called Mesha Sankranti, i.e. the solar transit into
• Vaisakhi is therefore determined by the solar calendar. Baisakhi usually falls on April 14, and
on April 15 once every thirty-six years, however it has now been agreed for Vaisakhi to
always fall on the 13th of April of the Gregorian calendar.
• Commonly believed, a New Year for the Sikhs. This Sikh New Year is celebrated on the 1st
day of Chet which usually falls on March 13, a month earlier.
• Gurupurbas are remembrance days for the ten Sikh gurus in which the Adi Granth (the Sikh
scripture) is read aloud.
Among the more important gurpurbs, in the Nanakshahi calendar, are:
• The birthday of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism (November)
• The birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, founder of the Khalsa (January)
• The martyrdom of Guru Arjan (June)
• The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (November/December)
• Other important gurpurbs include Vaisakhi, which commemorates the creation of the Khalsa
Panth, and the martyrdom days of the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
• During these celebrations, the Guru Granth Sahib is read through, in private homes and in
the gurdwaras, in a single continuous ceremony lasting 48 hours.
• This reading, called Akhand Path, must be without interruption; the relay of reciters who take
turns at saying the Scripture ensures that no break occurs.
• Special assemblies are held in gurdwaras and discourses given on the lives and teachings of
the gurus. Sikhs march in processions through towns and cities chanting the holy hymns.
• Sarson ka Saag (Mustard leaves curry)
• Dal Makhani/ Dal Handi (curry of pulses)
• Choley (generally eaten with Naan)
• Punj Ratani Dal (a mixtute of 5 lentils)
• Kadhai Paneer
• Shahi Paneer
• Sheer Korma
• Tandoori Chicken
• Butter Chicken
3. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
• Tandoori Fish
• Fish tikka
• Chicken Biriyani
Bread & Flour Preparations
• Tandoori Roti
• Lachha paratha
• Phulka or chapatti
• Aloo paratha
• Mooli paratha
One of the very delicious items in their menu is called roh di kheer, which is prepared by
cooking rice in sugarcane juice for a long time. Besides this, there are more of Punjabi
• Rice Kheer
• Gulab Jamun
• Gaajar Halwa
• Sooji Halwa
Music and dance
• Bhangra is a traditional Punjabi musical art form that is increasing in popularity all over
the world. It represents the liveliness and dynamism of its people. The dance mainly
involves men, who perform to the fast beats of drum and music. Originally performed on
the Baisakhi festival, the harvest festival of Punjab, Bhangra is done at every single
festive occasion today.
Dhol, a large, high-bass drum, is the instrument that defines the Bhangra. In addition to
a drum, chimta-musical tongs and burchu and sound of the beats from earthen vessels
are used as accompanying instruments.
• Most Punjabi women will wear the salwar kameez (long top worn over the pants). Women
will also wear a dupatta (a scarf) with it, which can be draped over the head as need
4. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
• The English word pyjama derives from the loose fitting pants worn in Punjab. The men
wear a kurta, (long shirt) tahmat (cloth wrapped around the waist and legs) or pyjama,
and a turban.
• Phulkari, meaning flower work, is a spectacular style of embroidery peculiar to the
Punjabis. The total effect is that of florance magnificence. The patterns of needle work
done on the bed spreads, chunnis, dupattas (these are head covers) and shirts and
Salvars, are still different. Needle work on phulkaris is done on a deep coloured cotton
cloth with striking silk threads.
• Some of the Punjabis played the Indian game of Kabbadi
According to the Rehat Maryada, “a Sikh should marry only a Sikh”. In recent years, Gurdwaras
in Malaysia and across the world relaxed the rule, allowing interfaith marriages (between a Sikh
and non-Sikh) to be conducted in the Gurdwaras.
As soon as the couple agree to wed, the roka or saith ceremony, which is an announcement that
the boy and girl have found their soul mates and will look no further for a life partner, is held. The
girl's mama (mother's brother) gives her the nath (nose ring) which she will wear on her wedding.
The wedding celebrations begin with the tikka ceremony, held a week to ten days before the
wedding (depending on the number of functions to follow) in which the family of the girl visits that
of the boy's carrying beautifully wrapped gifts and the tikka material: a silver tray with a few grains
of rice and saffron in a tiny silver bowl, 14 chuharey (dried dates) covered with silver foil and a
coconut wrapped in a gold leaf. The father of the girl applies 'tikka' on his son-in-law's forehead
and gives him his blessings and some money. In return, the girl's family receives baskets of
seven dried fruits: almonds, cashewnuts, chuahara, coconut pieces, raisins, dried apricots and
phoolmakhana, at the kudmai (sagai or engagement)
A sangeet function hosted by the girl's family, in which just a few close members of the boy's
family are invited. The girl's family play the dholki (an elongated tabla) sing songs in which they
tease the boy and his family, telling them to thank their stars they were lucky to find such a
wonderful girl, who they probably didn't deserve! All in jest, of course, but they take care not to
get carried away. After this, it is the boy's turn to retaliate, which they do in another sangeet
function hosted by them. Though these are the traditional sangeets, many families opt for live
bands or a disc jockey to churn out one dance track after another as guests shake a leg on the
5. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
The last major function before the wedding is the mehendi. Mehendiwallis are called to the
respective houses of the boy and girl and they apply mehendi to the palms of the female family
members, and the hands and feet of the bride. A basket containing bindis and bangles is handed
around so girls can choose those that match the outfit they plan to wear to the wedding.
The Wedding Day
The maaiyan of the bride starts three days before the wedding, which means she is now not
supposed to leave the house until the big day. These days are meant for complete relaxation.
She is not even supposed to meet the groom. The morning of the wedding, batna, a paste of flour
and turmeric, is applied to the face, hands and legs of the bride. This is believed to beautify the
skin. She then has a bath and sits for the puja, after which she is made to wear the bridal 'chura',
red and white ivory bangles that signify her status as a bride. Her relatives then tie a kalira (jingle)
on these churas, which convey their good wishes and blessings. The eligible girls line up and the
bride lightly bangs her kaliras on their head. It is believed that by doing this, these girls would be
the next to get married.
Similarly the groom's relatives also apply batna, more as a jest than a serious ceremony. This is
followed by a puja, after which his mother ties a sehera (veil of flowers) on his turban, praying that
his life ahead will be as beautiful and fragrant as the flowers.
The bride's family waits at the entrance to greet the baarat (the groom and his family), who reach
singing and dancing. The father, brother, uncles and grandfathers of the groom embrace the
corresponding members of the bride's family. While embracing, they try to lift each other up as a
show of strength and superiority, amidst much laughter and cheer. When they enter the venue
the bride is brought out and the couple exchange garlands.
The wedding concludes with the pheras, where the couple exchange vows in front of the sacred
fire. The bride's parents give her hand to the groom in marriage in what is known as the
kanyadaan. In the earlier days, in exchange for the bride, her in-laws would donate a sacred cow,
but today money is accepted. The couple take four rounds of the fire and seven steps to the
North to signify advancement as they walk together through life. Then the bride puts a foot on a
stone as she says no matter what problems come their way, she will be stable - solid as a rock.
Her brother pours kheel (a sweet) into her hands, which she pours into her husband's hands.
Once this is done the boy's father sprinkles water on the newlyweds to say that if there are
misunderstandings between them, he will help calm them down. The bride then makes a tearful
farewell to her new home in what is known as the 'bidai'.
• A naming ceremony occurs at the temple.
• A sacred book is randomly opened and the parents choose a name that begins with the
first letter of the first word on the left hand page.
• All Sikh males carry the surname of Singh (meaning lion) and Sikh females carry the
name Kaur (meaning lioness/ princess) respectively.
• The Punjabis who are Sikhs and Hindus are cremated at death.
6. Culture in Malaysia: Punjabi
• The body of a dying or dead person, if it is on a cot, must not be taken off the cot and put on
• Nor must a lit lamp be placed beside, or a cow got bestowed in donation by, him/her or for
his/her good or any other ceremony, contrary to Guru's way, performed.
• Only Gurbani should be recited or "Waheguru, Waheguru" repeated by his or her side.
Tatt Khalsa Diwan Gurdwara , Kuala Lumpur.
• The design concept of the new Gurdwara Sahib is based on the art and architecture
period of Guru Arjun Dev Ji.
• It incorporates the symbolic dimensions of 5 and 10 - the Darbar Sahib will be elegantly
designed with 10 full length bay windows with salient aspects of the Gurbani, scriptures
and art of the period of the Gurus.
• The central dome, similar in form to that of the Golden Temple in Amritsar is covered
with gold mosaic and its interior has an inner ceiling with tiny lights depicting the stars
above Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.