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The society and culture of Pakistan (Urdu: ثقافت پاکستان) comprises numerous diverse cultures and ethnic groups: the Punjabis, Kashmiris, Sindhis in east, Muhajirs, Makrani in the south; Baloch and Pashtun in the west; and the ancient Dardic, Wakhi, and Burusho communities in the north. These Pakistani cultures have been greatly influenced by many of the surrounding countries' cultures, such as the Turkic peoples, Persian, Arab, and other South Asian ethnic groups of the Subcontinent, Central Asia and the Middle East.
In ancient times, Pakistan was a major cultural hub. Many cultural practices and great monuments have been inherited from the time of the ancient rulers of the region. One of the greatest cultural influences was that of the Persian Empire, of which Pakistan was a part. In fact, the Pakistani satraps were at one time the richest and most productive of the massive Persian Empire. Other key influences include the Afghan Empire, Mughal Empire and later, the short-lived but influential, the British Empire.
Pakistan has a cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from 2800–1800 B.C., and was remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced sanitation, excellent roads, and uniquely structured society. Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past, and has been occupied and settled by many different peoples, each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country. Some of the largest groups were the Proto-Indo-Aryans, of which Sindhis and Punjabis descend from and later Iranic peoples which the Baloch and Pashtuns descend from. Other less significant ones include the Greeks, Scythians, Persians, White Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Buddhists, and other Eurasian groups, up to and including the British, who left in the late 1940s.
The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times, and is analogous to Turkey's position in Eurasia. There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also reveal influences from far afield, including Tibet, Nepal, India, and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from areas further west.
Ancient sites in Pakistan include: Zoroastrian Fire temples, Islamic centres, shi'a shrines/Sufi shrines, Buddhist temples, Sikh, Hindu, and pagan temples and shrines, gardens, tombs, palaces, monuments, and Mughal and Indo-Saracenic buildings. Sculpture is dominated by Greco-Buddhist friezes, and crafts by ceramics, jewellery, silk goods and engraved woodwork and metalwork.
Pakistani society is largely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural. Though cultures within the country differ to some extent, more similarities than differences can be found, as most Pakistanis are mainly of Aryan heritage or have coexisted side by side along the Indus River for several thousand years, or both. However, over 60 years of integration, a distinctive "Pakistani" culture has sprung up, especially in the urban areas where many of the diverse ethnic groups have coexisted and ithe country now having a literacy rate of 55%, up from 3% at the time of independence. Traditional family values are highly respected and considered sacred, although urban families increasingly form nuclear families, owing to socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional culture of the extended family.
The past few decades have seen emergence of a middle class in cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Peshawar, Sialkot, Abbottabad, and Multan. Rural areas of Pakistan are regarded as more conservative, and are dominated by regional tribal customs dating back hundreds if not thousands of years.
"Pakistan's culture is again unique like the rest of the country. Pakistan's geography is the meeting point of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia/Gulf. Its culture could be termed as a combination of sub continental, Islamic, Regional, English, and more recently global influences. Let us consider them piecemeal. The newly born Pakistan had to have a sub continental leaning, having been a part of for last 5000 years of its civilization. However, the Indus Valley, present day Pakistan, culture was different from the rest of North India or South India". (Quoted Pakistan's Identity, History and Culture, from the famous book Gwadar on the Global Chessboard by Nadir Mir)
Pakistani literature originates from when Pakistan gained its nationhood as a sovereign state in 1947. The common and shared tradition of Urdu literature and English literature of South Asia was inherited by the new state. Over a period of time, a body of literature unique to Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major Pakistani languages, including Urdu, English, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, Balochi, and Sindhi.
Poetry is a highly respected art and profession in Pakistan. The pre-eminent form of poetry in Pakistan almost always originates in Persian, due in part to the long standing affiliation the region had with the Persian Empire. The enthusiasm for poetry exists at a regional level as well, with nearly all of Pakistan's provincial languages continuing the legacy. Since the independence of the country in 1947 and establishment of Urdu as the national language, poetry is written in that language as well. The Urdu language has a rich tradition of poetry and includes the famous poets Dr. Allama Iqbal (national poet), Mirza Ghalib, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Jazib Qureshi, and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi. Apart from Urdu poetry, Pakistani poetry also has blends of other regional languages. Balochi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Seraiki, and Pashto poetry have all incorporated and influenced Pakistani poetry. Poetry in the form of marsia salam and naath is also very popular among many Pakistanis.
The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pasto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution center for Afghan music abroad.
Kathak - classical dance developed in the Royal courts of the Mughals.
Folk dances are still popular in Pakistan and vary according to region such as:
These are very similar to stage plays in theatres. They are performed by well-known actors and actresses in the Lollywood industry. The dramas and plays deal with many themes from life events, often with a humorous touch. Bollywood movies are also popular.
The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be traced to four distinct periods: pre-Islamic, Hindu heritage, Buddhist culture, Islamic, colonial, and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism, Guptas, Mouryas, and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan introduced the classical Islamic construction techniques into Pakistan's architectural landscape. However, a smooth transition to predominantly picture-less Islamic architecture occurred. The town of Uch Sharif contains the tombs of Bibi Jawindi, Baha'al-Halim, and Jalaluddin Bukhari, which are considered some of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture in Pakistan and are on the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage Site list since 2004. One of the most important of the few examples of the Persian style of architecture is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era, design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with, and often produced playful forms of, Hindustani art. Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. The Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh also originates from the epoch of the Mughals, as does the Mohabbat Khan Mosque in Peshawar.
In the British colonial age, the buildings developed were predominantly of the Indo-European style, with a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.
The official national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, but cricket and squash are the most popular sports. The Pakistan national field hockey team has won the Hockey World Cup a record four times. The Pakistan national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice (in 1987 and 1996). Additionally, they have also won the ICC World Twenty20 once (in 2009), and were runners-up (in 2007). The team has also won the Austral-Asia Cup in 1986, 1990, and 1994.
At the international level, Pakistan has competed many times at the Summer Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting. Hockey is the sport in which Pakistan has been most successful at the Olympics, winning three gold medals (1960, 1968, and 1984). Pakistan has also won the Hockey World Cup four times (1971, 1978, 1982, and 1994). Pakistan has hosted several international competitions, including the South Asian Federation Games in 1989 and 2004.
A1 Grand Prix racing is also becoming popular with the entry of a Pakistani team in the 2005 season. The Tour de Pakistan, modelled on the Tour de France, is an annual cycling competition that covers the length and breadth of Pakistan. Recently, football has grown in popularity across the country, where traditionally it had been played almost exclusively in the western province of Balochistan. FIFA has recently teamed up with the government to bring football closer to the northern areas too.
Culinary art in Pakistan comprises a mix of Middle Eastern; Punjabi cuisine, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and Turkish influences that reflect the country's history as well as the variation of cooking practices from across the surrounding regions. Urban centres of the country offer an amalgamation of recipes from all parts of the country, while food with specific local ingredients and tastes is available in rural areas and villages. Besides the main dishes of salan, with or without meat and cooked with vegetables or lentils, there are a number of provincial specialties such as karahi, biryani, and tikka, in various forms and flavours, eaten alongside a variety of breads such as naan, chapati, and roti.
The holiest month of the Islamic Calendar, which is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset and self discipline, it is widely observed in Pakistan. Muslim Pakistanis (about 97% of the population) fast, attend mosques with increased frequency, and recite Qur'an. Special foods are cooked in greater quantities, parties are held, and special accommodation is made by workplaces and educational institutes.
Occurs after the Islamic month of Ramadan. Chand Raat occurs the night before Eid day celebrations commence, marking the end of the month of Ramadan. In the night known as Chand Raat, people celebrate by various means, such as girls putting henna on their hands. People buy gifts and sweets that will be given to friends and families who come over to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The streets, major buildings and landmarks, even outside of malls and plazas, put on displays of elaborate decorations and colourful light shows. There are large crowds in the city center to celebrate the beginning of Eid, and it is usually a boom time for business.
The two Eids, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, commemorate the passing of the month of fasting, Ramadan, and the willingness of Ibrahim A.S to sacrifice his son Ishmael for God. On these days, there are national holidays and many festival events that take place to celebrate Eid. As Pakistan is a Muslim state, there are three days off for all businesses and government offices.
On the night before Eid, people search for the new moon to mark the end of Ramadan and arrival of Eid ul-Fitr. The day starts with morning prayers, then returning home for a large breakfast with family members. The day is spent visiting relatives and friends and sharing gifts and sweets with everyone. During the evening people hit the town for some partying, going to restaurants or relaxing in city parks.
On Eid ul-Fitr, money is given for charity and as gifts to young children.
On Eid ul-Adha, people may also distribute meat to relatives and neighbors and donate food for charity.
In Pakistan, the first ten days of Muharram are observed officially. The 10th day of Muharram is marked in the memory of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Muhammad, who was a martyr, along with 72 family members, friends and followers during the Battle of Karbala.
Jashn-e-Baharan aometimes referred to as Basant, is a pre-Islamic Punjabi festival that marks the coming of spring. Celebrations in Pakistan are centered in Lahore, and people from all over the country and abroad come to the city for the annual festivities. Kite flying competitions take place all over the city's rooftops during Basant (now prohibited). The fertile province of Punjab was intimately tied via its agriculture to the different seasons of the year. The arrival of spring was an important event for all farmers and was welcomed with a celebration, hence the name Jashn (celebration) Baharan (spring).
Christmas is usually celebrated by Pakistani Christians who account more than 3 percent of Pakistan and mostly reside in Punjab of Pakistan. Other Pakistanis also commemorate this event to promote inter-communal harmony.
This festival is like Nowruz of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. In Northern Pakistan (Chitral, Gilgit, Baltistan), and Northern Punjab, Nowruz is celebrated as a socio-religious festival. It is also celebrated with much fervour in Balochistan, and in almost all of Pakistan's major urban centres. The day coincides with the Spring Equinox on March 21, but the celebration continues for weeks. In Baltistan, the main features of Nowruz are the giving of coloured eggs to friends and polo matches. In Balochistan, the festival is marked with outdoor feasts, and the traditional jumping over a fire to wash away sins and usher in a fresh start. The origins of this festival are pre-Islamic and date back to when Pakistan was part of the Achaemenid and Sassanid Persian empires.
On August 14, the people of Pakistan celebrate the day when Pakistan gained its independence from British India, and formed an independent state for Muslims. There are many celebrations all over the country, with people singing and dancing in the streets. Concerts are held with many pop and classical singers. Parades are held in the capital city (Islamabad). Many people decorate their houses and fly the flag of Pakistan. At night, fireworks are used in many cities. Many people pray for the country and reflect on their pride in the country of Pakistan.
September 6 is another patriotic day, when the Army of Pakistan is put on display for the general public to show Pakistan arms. All Government officials attend the ceremony and recognitions are awarded to special people for their work. In March 2007, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) put on display the new joint manufactured Chinese-Pakistani aircraft called the JF-17 Thunder.
Traditionally, the government-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) has been the dominant media player in Pakistan. The PTV channels are controlled by the government and opposition views are not given much time. The past decade has seen the emergence of several private TV channels showing news and entertainment, such as GEO TV, AAJ TV, ARY Digital, HUM, MTV Pakistan, and others. Traditionally the bulk of TV shows have been plays or soap operas, some of them critically acclaimed. Various American, European, Asian TV channels, and movies are available to a majority of the population via Cable TV. Television accounted for almost half of the advertising expenditure in Pakistan in 2002.[dead link]
The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) was formed on 14 August 1947, the day of Pakistani independence. It was a direct descendant of the Indian Broadcasting Company, which later became All India Radio. At independence, Pakistan had radio stations in Dhaka, Lahore, and Peshawar. A major programme of expansion saw new stations open at Karachi and Rawalpindi in 1948, and a new broadcasting house at Karachi in 1950. This was followed by new radio stations at Hyderabad (1951), Quetta (1956), a second station at Rawalpindi (1960), and a receiving centre at Peshawar (1960). During the 1980s and 1990s, the corporation expanded its network to many cities and towns of Pakistan to provide greater service to the local people. Today, there are over a hundred radio stations due to more liberal media regulations.
An indigenous movie industry exists in Pakistan and is known as "Lollywood", as it is based in Lahore, producing over forty feature-length films a year.
|This section requires expansion. (November 2011)|
Information of ongoing cultural events in Pakistan can be found on social media web sites, a series of blogs, and portals.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2009)|
The national dress is Shalwar Qameez for both men and women. It consists of a long, loose fitting tunic with very baggy trousers. The dress is believed to be an amalgamation of the dresses worn by the ancient Persians, and Mughal Empire who have left their impression on the people and culture of Pakistan.
The men's version consists of solid, masculine colours, and is almost always accompanied by a collar and buttons (similar to a polo shirt). Men often wear an outer waistcoat over the shalwar kameez. The women's version almost never contains collar and buttons but is often embroidered and consists of feminine colors and may feature lace or flower patterns.
In the summer, a light, cotton version is often worn, while during the winter, a heavier, wool version is worn.
The sherwani or achkan, with karakul hat is the recommended dress for male government employees and officials, as it is not specifically associated with any of the provinces. Most male government officials wear the formal black sherwani on state occasions.
A large Pakistani diaspora exists in the Western world and the Middle East. Whereas Pakistanis in the United States, Canada and Australia tend to be professionals, the majority of them in the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia originally came from a rural background belonging to the working class. These emigrants and their children influence Pakistan culturally and economically, keeping close ties with their roots by travelling to Pakistan and especially by returning or investing there.
Pakistan's service sector accounts for 53% of the country's gross domestic product. Wholesale and retail trade is 30% of this sector. Shopping is a popular pastime for many Pakistanis, especially among the well-to-do and the thirty-million strong middle class. The cities of Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad, Faisalabad, and Quetta are especially known for the great contrast in shopping experiences from burgeoning bazaars to modern multi-story shopping malls. In particular, Lahore and Karachi are peppered with colourful shopping plazas. Over 1,081 patent applications were filed by non-resident Pakistanis in 2004.
Pakistanis have evolved an often distinct and unique set of culture, traditions and customs in the region. Shalwar Qameez is the dress commonly worn, both by men and women, and Kashmiru, etc. put and dances are distinctly unique with their own melodies, instruments, patterns and styles. Pakistani arts in metal work, tiles, furniture, rugs, designs/paintings, literature, calligraphy, and much more are diverse and renowned internationally. Pakistani architecture is unique with its infusion of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indigenous styles. The manners and lifestyles are guided by a blend of traditions as well as the culture. Food dishes are also attracting quite a lot of attention with its wide blend of flavours and spices.
The vast majority of Pakistanis are Caucasoid by race but many other distinct minority are also present. The majority of Pakistanis are of average to above average height. Pakistan is notable for having several individuals in the Guinness Book of World Records, such as Alam Channa for the tallest man in the world. Pakistanis are diverse, many possessing dark hair and eyes but light coloured eyes and light coloured hair do occur in significant portions of the population as well, notably in the North amongst the Dardic, Kalash, Burusho, Wakhi, and north western Pashtun tribes. The typical Pakistani can range from light to dark brown skin tones with a few exceptions in mountainous regions of the north. Many of the people inhabiting Pakistan's western regions share genetic affinities with ethnic groups in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. While the racial features of each ethnic group in Pakistan are not uniform, Chitralis and some of the Dardic tribes in the north are the most Caucasoid phenotypically, followed by the Pashtuns (also known as Pakhtuns), Kashmiris, Paharis/Potoharis, Balochis, Punjabis, and Sindhis, Muhajirs, and Seraikis. The Negroid people live along the Makran coast and are a small minority known as the Sheedi who came from East Africa in the 15th century. Panjabis, Seraiki and The Sindhis have considerable admixture and show a diverse phenotypic features representative of their multicultural history. The Mongoloid people also inhabit Pakistan are of Central Asian origin where oftentimes their racial elements are infused within the dominant Caucasoid genes of the vast majority of Pakistanis, however there are many instances in which some have retained their distinct racial characteristics. Pakistan's genetic diversity is due to various factors including the numerous waves of migration from other regions and include Aryans mainly, in smaller amounts Greeks, Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Scythians, Afghans to name a few and also because of its geopolitical location straddling the Iranian Plateau, Central Asian, Tibetan, and South Asian genetic spheres and as a result, the phenotypic expression of its people is reflective of this diversity. Large influxes of refugees from the surrounding nations have further exacerbated this change (Muhajirs from India in 1947, Kashmiris refugees in 1948, Iranians in 1978, Afghans in th 1980s, Tajiks and Iraqis in 2001 etc..)
There are many festivals celebrated annually in Pakistan, some of which, including Pakistan Day (23 March), Independence Day (14 August), Defence of Pakistan Day (6 September), Pakistan Air Force Day (7 September), the anniversaries of the birth (25 December, a national holiday), and death (11 September) of Quaid-e-Azam, birth of Allama Iqbal (9 November), and the birth (30 July) and death (8 July) of Madar-e-Millat, are observed as national public holidays. Several important religious festivals are celebrated by Pakistani Muslims during the year; the celebration days depend on the lunar Islamic calendar. Ramadan, the ninth month of the calendar, is characterised by daytime fasting for 29 to 30 days and is followed by the festival of Eid ul-Fitr. In a second festival, Eid ul-Adha, an animal is sacrificed in remembrance of the actions of Prophet Abraham (Arabic: Ibrahim) and the meat is shared with friends, family, and the less fortunate. Both Eid festivals are public holidays, serving as opportunities for people to visit family and friends, and for children to receive new clothes, presents, and sweets. Muslims also celebrate Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi - the birthday of the prophet Muhammad - in the third month of the calendar (Rabi' al-Awwal) and mark the Day of Ashurah on the 9th and 10th days of the first month (Muharram) to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn bin Ali.
Zorastrians, Parsis, Bahais, Nestorians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Christians in Pakistan also celebrate their own festivals and holidays. Sikhs come from across the world to visit several holy sites in Punjab, including the shrine of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, at Hasan Abdal in Attock District, and his birthplace, at Nankana Sahib. There are also several regional and local festivals, such as the Punjabi festival of Basant, which marks the start of spring and is celebrated by kite flying.
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