Illinois governor proclaims February ‘Punjabi Language Month’

Women participating in the spoon and lemon race at the Sept. 18, 2022 Punjabi Mela held in Deer Grove East Forest Preserve in Palatine, a suburb of Chicago, organized by Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago. Photo Kamaljit Virdi/PCS

Recognizing the contributions of Punjabi speaking residents to Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker proclaimed the month of February in 2023 as “Punjabi Language Month.”

This is in accordance with the United Nations International Mother Language Day which is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February approved by U.N.E.S.C.O. to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote preservation and protection of all languages, a press release from the Punjabi Cultural Society (PCS) of Chicago noted.

There are more than 750,000 Punjabi speaking Americans and more than fifty thousand Punjabi speaking Illinoisans, according to PCS.

“Several activities and events to celebrate the Punjabi Language Month have been planned for the Metro Chicago area,”  Bhupinder Singh Dhaliwal, president of Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago, is quoted saying in the press release, among them “Rangla Punjab” on March 25, 2023 at College Of DuPage.

The PCS noted that Punjabi, the 9th most widely spoken language in the world, originated around the 7th century in the Punjab region of the undivided India and Pakistan in South Asia and is spoken by more than 113 million people worldwide mainly by the Hindus, Sikhs, Muslim, and Christians with roots in the region. It is recognized as one of the official languages in India, Pakistan, United Kingdom, and Canada. Besides the above-mentioned countries there is a significant presence of Punjabis in Malaysia, East African countries, U.A.E., New Zealand, and Australia, the press release said.

“Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago and the Punjabi speaking Illinoisans are committed to preserving, protecting and sharing their Punjabi language, literature, arts, music, dance, culture, films, festivals and traditions with their fellow Americans,” said Rajinder Singh Mago, member of the Board of Governors of PCS.

Illinois Governor Jay Robert ‘J.B.’ Pritzker declared February 2023 as Punjabi Language Month. Photo: courtesy Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago.

“Punjabis are proud, adventurous, hospitable people who are fun loving and take pride in giving to the world delicious Punjabi cuisine,” said Nick Balwinder Singh, the PCS chairman.

The first Asian American U.S. Congressman from California named Dalip Singh Saund was a Punjabi. Other well-known Punjabi Americans include Nobel Prize winner in medicine Har Gobind Khorana, Former Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal, Former Governor of South Carolina Nicky Haley, U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna. NASA Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, Narinder Singh Kapani widely acknowledged as the father of fiber-optics, Vinod Dham ‘Inventor of the Pentium Chip,’  the MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, and many other large farmers in Southern California who grow almonds, raisins, peaches and many other crops, PCS noted.

In addition there are several noteworthy Punjabis in Canada such as Harjit Singh Sajjan former Minister of National Defense of Canada, Anita Anand the current Minister of National Defense of Canada, Jagmeet Singh Leader of New Democratic Party in Canada and Ujjal Dosanjh the former Governor of British Columbia. The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak is also of Punjabi Heritage.



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