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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Punjab: Rich in culture but politically neglected, Puadh region now hopes it will finally get its due

Dr Baidwan said that due to lack of development and political representation, Puadh was not promoted like the three main regions of the state.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: September 25, 2021 12:54:34 pm
Punjab govt, Jalandhar news, Puadh region, Punjab, Rich in culture, Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab news, India news, indian ExpressSuddenly, there has been conversation about Puadh area, and the reason behind this is the new chief minister of Punjab, Charanjit Singh Channi, who hails from this area. (File)

PUNJAB IS popularly known to be divided into three regions — Majha, Doaba and Malwa — with rivers defining their boundaries. But that is not the entire geographical story of Punjab, for there is more to it. One more distinct area exists, but it is broadly considered as part of the Malwa region, even though it is quite different from Malwa in its dialect as well as culture. The Puadh (Powadh/Poorva-Adh, the eastern half of Punjab) region has never gained much mention in common conversation because the entire area south of the Sutlej is assumed to be Malwa. Now, suddenly, there has been conversation about this area, and the reason behind this is the new chief minister of Punjab, Charanjit Singh Channi, who hails from this area.

Noted Puadhi writer Dr Gurmit Singh Baidwan, who authored a well-known book called ‘Rang Puadh de’, and whose poems and stories were part of the syllabus for primary and middle classes under Punjab School Education Board, said 35 per cent dialect in Gurbani (Guru Granth Sahib), is in Puadhi language, as is ‘Vahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru ji Ki Fateh’, which is a Khalsa salutation used by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh at the time of manifestation of the Khalsa in 1699.

Dr Baidwan said that due to lack of development and political representation, Puadh was not promoted like the three main regions of the state. “What we need to give due place to this area are informal records of the state,” he added.

Where is the Puadh area located?

Experts say that in Punjab, the area south of Sutlej is considered as the Malwa region, the largest region of the state, but it is not so because Puadh is located south of Sutlej, between the Sutlej and Ghaggar rivers. The region has its own Puadhi language with more Hindi words.

Experts said that because most of Puadh area is part of districts which are considered part of the Malwa region, it is broadly considered as Malwa only, but Puadh’s distinct dialect and culture must be conserved.
Geographically, Puadh area starts from Ropar district of Punjab and spreads across various parts of Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Ludhiana and Patiala, as well as Chandigarh. Experts said 22 villages of the Puadh area were uprooted to carve out Chandigarh and Mohali.

Various writers of Puadh area said that before the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, Puadh was the part of Ambala district of present-day Haryana, because of which Puadh area is not limited to Punjab and spreads across other states including Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh after 1966. Earlier, Haryana and several parts of Himachal was part of undivided Punjab.

In Punjab, Puadh area covers Ropar, Mohali, Kurali and Kharar of Mohali district, Amloh, Morinda and Sirhind of Fatehgarh Sahib district, Rajpura, Patiala city of Patiala district, part of Doraha and Samrala areas in Ludhiana district, Malerkotla, as well as eastern parts of Sangrur.
In Haryana, some parts of Ambala, Panchkula, Yamunanagar and Kaithal districts, as well as a few parts of Himachal’s Sirmaur and Solan districts are part of Puadh.

Language, culture and people

Bhupinder Matauria, a retired government officer, writer and lyricist, who has written a book titled ‘Puadh ke Gharatan ka Atta’, said: “Our language and culture is different from Malwa. There were hardly any farmer suicides in our Puadh till a few years ago, and there weren’t any people begging on the streets either,” he said, adding that things are now changing.

“To protect our distinct identity, we have started the ‘International Puadhi Manch’ to promote Puadhi culture. We raised Puadh region issues from various stages, that it should be given due respect like the three other regions of the state in government records and even on the Punjab map formally, but these politicians are responsible for not promoting Puadh. Now we are hopeful as the new CM is from Puadh,” he said.

“Puadh has been a very green area since the beginning and there were a lot of mango orchards here. People used to grow wheat and sugarcane here and a lot of trade used to take place between Malwa and Puadh. The mangoes from here used to be supplied to far away places. Growing up, every meal of ours would include mangoes,” he added.
There are a dozen seasonal rivers and nullahs in Puadh area, due to which it was quite a green area, said Matauria.

Dr Baidwan said Chandigarh was carved out from 22 villages of Puadh, but not a single place in Chandigarh was named after Puadh.

“Our language is Punjabi but there are several Hindi words used in it which makes Puadhi language (Punjabi) different from the Punjabi language of the three regions of the state. While we are considered as part of Malwa, we prefer to wear ‘kurta and pajama’ while in Malwa’s rural belt, mostly chadara (sheet-type cloth) is wrapped and their style of wearing ‘turla style’ turban (in old Punjab) was very different from the turban style in Puadh,” said Jasbir Singh Shantpuri, a resident of Shatpuri village in Puadh area of Ropar.

“All of Punjab’s chief ministers have been from its most politically dominant region, Malwa, barring one who was from Majha. But with the present incumbent is the first one who is a Punjabi but not from Majha, Doaba and Malwa region, but from Puadh,” said Shantpuri.

“There is so much excitement among people here. Yesterday, all types of newspapers were sold at newspapers stalls in Morinda, which I saw after almost three decades. It first happened when Beant Singh had become Punjab CM in 1992,” he added.

Lakhmir Singh Liddar, a retired army officer of Purkhali area in Ropar, said: “Ours was a very backward area in the beginning but because of its proximity to Chandigarh, now our current generations are getting educated and working in big companies. However, there is still a lot to work on like basic education, health and communication facilities in our area.”

Dr Suman Preet Virk, head of the Department of Linguistics and Punjabi Lexicography, Punjabi University, Patiala, said Puadhi it is a very respected language and no less than the Punjabi being spoken in Majha, Malwa and Doaba regions of the state. “Even Bhasha Vibhagh (Punjab language department) has ‘Puadh Kosh’ (vocabulary) alongwith Pothohari Kosh. Pothohari area is no more part of our side but at the time of Partition, a large number of people had come from Pothohari area of western Punjab (present day Pakistan).”

People of the Puadh area have their own rituals which are different from Malwa. Because of the lack of proper representation from here, this area could not be popularised like the other three regions, said Dr Virk.

Dr Baidwan said a department must be dedicated for Puadh region in Punjab University Chandigarh, Punjabi University Patiala, because both are located in the region. Several noted writers of the area are promoting the Puadhi language, culture through their writing, songs, and even movies. “It hurts when we tell people that we are from Puadh, and they don’t know where that is,” he added.

Old-timers said mindless urbanisation has created a jungle of concrete in the once green Puadh area.

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