Adam Matvya is an alumnus of the 2017 CLS Punjabi program in Chandigarh, India. In 2018, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from San Francisco State University. He loves 19th Century Russian and American literature, as well as postcolonial and contemporary South Asian works. Adam will start a master’s degree program in Middle Eastern Studies this fall at University of Chicago. Adam is also an avid follower of Spanish football and a committed FC Barcelona fan.
Miri Piri, the Power of the Punjabi Language
Punjabi is widely spoken on the Indian Subcontinent and by diaspora populations in the West and in the Persian Gulf. While Punjabi is closely identified with Sikhi, it is a language that transcends religion and has a rich literary history. A particular phrase and concept that I am fond of in the Sikh tradition is Miri Piri. It symbolizes temporal and divine interconnectedness. Miri Piri illustrates the external cultural influences on Punabi, which shares roots with both Arabic and Persian, and sets a precedent for inner devotion and worldly activism.
I had a great opportunity to bond with my host family over the summer while discussing the concept of family. While the idea of family is universal, there are differences in socially accepted norms and customs surrounding it in every culture. My host family and I learned a lot from each other, both culturally and linguistically in our conversations about family. These are lessons that I carried back home to share with my local community and family.
A Hidden Gem
One experience that I particularly valued during my program was the visit to a local village outside Chandigarh named Manakpur Sharif. It is truly a hidden gem of Punjab. I gained valuable insights into state and national agricultural policies and how they affect local farming communities. I also learned about the Sikh family’s role in maintaining a historical Sufi Dargah. Given that the legacy of partition in Punjab is a violent one, it was inspiring to see this cross-religious cordiality and pilgrimage accommodation.
Inspiration to Continue Studying
Sikh traditions and practices inspire me to study Punjabi further. I hope that someday I will understand Gurbani, the compositions of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy text). Moreover, I hope to use the Punjabi language in a professional capacity as it relates to local politics in India and Pakistan.