Punjabi language in the United Kingdom

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Over the twentieth century many communities have immigrated to the United Kingdom (UK), amongst them Punjabis from India and Pakistan. Many have brought their literary talents with them. Some have taken to writing in English, whilst others have expressed their works into their original language. These writers have absorbed what they have seen in England and reflected this in their Punjabi novels and poetry. Amongst these writers are Amarjit Chandan, Harjeet Atwal, Veena Verma (writer of Mull Di Teeveen) and Shivcharan Gill. Others include Sathi Ludhianvi, K.C.Mohan, S.S.Santokh and Yash. In addition to these imigres, new British-born writers are emerging. These include Dominic Rai, Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon and Daljit Nagra.

Prominent British Punjabi writers[edit]

Shivcharan Jaggi Kussa[edit]

Shivcharan Jaggi Kussa was born in the village of Moga, in the district of the same name. He immigrated to Germany in 1986 where he served with German and Austrian Police. Since 2006 he has been living in the east end of London and has produced over the years a plethora of Punajbi novels. He is the most prolific Punjabi writer and most successful. Roop Dhillon is his protégé. He writes realistic satirical novels about corruption in the Indian Police force and Punjabi society in general. He has won many awards, including 7 gold medals and 17 further literary awards, including the Nanak Singh Novelist Award from Punjabi Satth Lambra. His books regularly appear on online magazines. Like Roop Dhillon he has embraced this medium. He is currently working on Rooh Lai Gia Dilan Da Jaani

Amarjit Chandan[edit]

Amarjit Chandan

Amarjit Chandan was born in Nairobi in November 1946. After graduating from Panjab University in India, he joined the Maoist Naxalite movement, and subsequently spent two years in solitary confinement. Later he worked for various Punjabi literary and political magazines, including the Bombay-based Economic and Political Weekly before migrating to England in 1980, where he lives with his radio-broadcaster wife and two sons.

He has published eight collections of poetry and two books of essays in Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script and two in the Persian script in Lahore and one in English translation titled Being Here.

He has edited many anthologies of world poetry and fiction, including two collections of British Punjabi poetry and short stories. His work is included in many anthologies in Punjabi, Hindi and English published in India and abroad. His poetry has been published in Greek, Turkish, Hungarian and Romanian and Indian languages. He has participated in many poetry readings in England, Hungary and at Columbia University. He has translated work by, among others, Brecht, Neruda, Ritsos, Hikmet and Cardenal into Punjabi.

He worked as a creative writer with the Punjab Drama Repertory Co., Chandigarh in the late 1970s and adapted Brecht's play The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Tagore's Mukatdhara in Punjabi. He was awarded Young Writer Fellowship by the Lalit Kala [Fine Arts] Akademi, India in 1980.

He is currently working on a Punjabi translation of Cervantes' Don Quixote. His own works include Jarhan, Beejak, Chhanna, and Guthali. He is a regular contributor to apnaorg.com and Sanjh magazine. His profile and work is listed on Danka - Pakistan's Cultural Guide.[1]

Chaudhry Afzal Haq[edit]

Chaudhry Afzal Haq (died 8 January 1942) was a Writer,[2] Humanitarian, Leader of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and a senior political figure in the history of Sub-Continent India. He Worked to help the poor and unrepresented in The Punjab. He was also a founder of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam.[3] He founded Ahrar with Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari. He was elected for three times in Punjab Assembly. He was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly of India. He was known as Mufakkir-e-Ahrar. He wrote many books such as Zindagi, Mehbub-e-Khuda, Deen-e-Islam, Azadi-e-Hind, Mera Afsanah, Jawahraat, Mashooqa-e-Punjab, Shaoor, Dehati rooman, Pakistan and untouchability, Taareekh-e-Ahrar, Dunya may dozakh, Islam and Socialism etc. He died on January 8, 1942, in Lahore.

Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon[edit]

Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon has written Neela Noor, a Punjabi novel from an English perspective. Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon (born in 1969- ) is the first British born English-Punjabi to write in the Punjabi language. He uses Gurumukhi script to write Panjabi poems, short stories and novels. He is the first to have a Punjabi Novel written in Diaspora Punjabi published in the west, specifically aimed at the UK GCSE Market. The idea was to write a Punjabi story that western born Punjabis could relate to. This novel is Nila Noor, the first of its kind.

Rupinder Dhillon has also written English poems, published in local Poetry Magazines, and Annexation, a novel about the Maharaja of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, just prior to Annexation by the British. He is a secular writer who has transcended the Radcliffe Line, and created characters both from India and Pakistan as well as Europe. He was interviewed by Desi Radio at the beginning of February 2006. The most interesting thing about this interview was how a primarily English speaking and writing individual taught himself Punjabi at home, and within a couple of years was able to write in it. His novels are published under the Khushjeevan Kitabaan brand name and in India by Lahore Books. He is good friends with British Punjabi singer Amarjeet (Rana) Bolla and his mentor is Jaggi Kussa. He is part of a movement in the west known as Baagi Batti, which is a loose collection of Punjabis and non-Punjabis promoting the language in the west.

Rupinderpal was born in west London, and brought up in Southall and Hounslow. Later on he moved to Buckinghamshire, where he began writing voraciously in English. He then changed direction and studied at Oxford Brookes University and DeMontfort, obtaining a Management Degree and a Masters in Design and Manufacture. He then pursued a career in accounting. During this time he was married and began Annexation (published on the net for free by Sikhspectrum), a path which led him to be interested in his Punjabi heritage, finally resulting in Nila Noor.

Since then he has written and had published Bharind (2011), a collection of short stories that mix realism with science fiction, and is currently working on O, the first Punjabi Gothic ( Vichitarvaad) novel.

Harjeet Atwal[edit]

Harjeet Atwal is a very famous Punjabi writer mainly known as a novelist and story-teller. His books are part of the regular courses of Indian Universities. Among his novels these are main ones; One Way, Ret, Sawari, Southall, British Born Desi, Das Saal Das Yug, Early Birds, Geet. He has written seven short stories books, one poetry collection, one travelogue, one biography and many more articles for different news papers and magazines. He is editor of a literary magazine as well named Shabad. He is an organizer of a literary institute named 'Adara Shabad'. His work is available many different Indian languages. He is a law graduate and has honed legal practice for few years before he migrated to UK in 1977. He lives in London since he moved to UK. He was born on 8 September 1952 and married with three children.

All three of these writers represent wildly different schools of thought. Atwal is a traditional Punjabi writer well known in East Punjab. Chandan experiments with the language and has a more international approach. Some do not understand his work, but he too is firmly established now in a traditional Punjabi upbringing. He is equally well known in West Punjab. Of the three, Dhillon represents a totally new breed. His style is very anglicised, reflecting his upbringing in the west. In some eyes this has meant his Punjabi is not "proper". However, it is true reflection of the way English-bred second-generation Punjabis use it. But it is not only his grammar that irks traditionalists. His writing can be heavy and surreal, and hard to comprehend by those used to stories about village life. He is urban and better known in the Greater Punjab (Europe and America) then in the east.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://danka.pk/index.php?var_action=artist_show&artist_id=75
  2. ^ [1] Chaudhry Afzal Haq or Punjab Hakomat
  3. ^ Tanwar, Raghuvendra (1999). Politics of sharing power: the Punjab Unionist Party, 1923-1947. Manohar Publishers & Distributors. p. 80. ISBN 978-81-7304-272-0. 

www.shivcharan-jaggikussa.blogspot.com[unreliable source?]