I grew up with my grandparents.. who were from Western Punjab.. the values i grew up with are very different from the Punjabis that one sees around today.. for a long time now, i have been wondering.. searched the history and anthropology books, and literature about the era.. to get an idea of the social structure at the time.. relied heavily on inputs from both sets of grandparents.. and came up with not much.
This, then, is an attempt to chronicle what the Punjab was like before Partition.. what was the socio-economic structure, and how was the value system different. Please, please add to this list if you can.. and i will be very grateful.
Part 1: Within the family learning that is incompatible with our society today
Chaaude to vadda doonga: The deep one is better than the wide one.. my grandmother used to say this every time she saw someone show off. She always maintained that wealth and jewelry should be kept under wraps and one must appear as simple as possible to all outward appearences. Makeup was absolutely forbidden for unmarried girls. Synthetic clothes, clothes with silver or golden decorations were all considered "Miraasi" - not worthy of a person from a noble family. "Clothes maketh the man" was not taken to mean "Good Clothes" :-)
Man neeva te matt uchhi: We thought, as kids, that we were super intelligent. Some of the adults agreed too. But at home, we were taught to never speak unless spoken to, to never show off our knowledge or intellect, to always remember that someone is wiser than us, and therefore to be humble at all times.
There is no such thing as a small lie: In my house, you could kill and be forgiven. But you could not lie and hope to be forgiven. There was no such thing as a small lie. Lies were detested in the family and still is the BIGGEST crime.. being a family with roots in farming and trading, we were always told that the "zubaan" is very important, and if a person cannot trust you for a small thing, fat chance that they will trust you for a big thing.
Can you remember anything from that era? Anything at all that will help us understand the people who lived in those times.. the people who survived the partition and lived to thrive in an alien country that was far from kind to them.. they were very special people.. i am always amazed at what the refugees could achieve post partition..