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Punjab Is The Land Of Villages And My Village Is Pharwala (Jalandhar)

Nearly 80% of India’s population lives in the villages. In Punjab alone, there are close to 13,000 villages. Every village has its own unique character and speciality. Same goes for my own place of birth Pharwala. Located in Jalandhar district, Pharwala , a village of about 2,000 residents is  about five kilometers north east from the historic town of  Nurmahal and about three kilometers north from nearby Bilga one of the largest towns of Punjab. It is about a kilometer north of the Phillaur-Nurmahal main road.

Pharwala has changed a lot since I left it for Canada in 1966. Like every other village, town and city, my ancestral village has also grown a lot.  Every time I visit it, there are new houses, stores and a few other things. It is always a pleasure to meet some of my village folks with whom I grew up. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many left now. Nevertheless, it is very satisfying to see their children and grandchildren and share stories of our childhood with them. It is also a pleasant surprise to see some of my friends and acquaintances settled in Canada and other countries who tend to visit at the same time that I happen to be there.

Pharwala has a very interesting history. It is believed that at one time it was an integral part of nearby Bilga. However, the land belonging to our ancestors was in and around the current site of the village. Some of our ancestors decided that it was a long way to farm the land so far away. Consequently, they decided to move from Bilga and settle at the present site of the village.  The person who led the initiative is believed to be named Pheru. As such, the village was named after him –from Pheruwala to Pharwala. Our ancestors shared their heritage with the residents of Bilga. As such, we have a close connection with our brothers and sisters from Bilga. Most of the residents of Bilga and Pharwala are Sangheras.However, as has happened with many other towns and villages over the years, some other families with different last names who had relationship with the people of the village also moved in. Thus, in nearly every village and town now there is a mix of people with different last names.

Pharwala has been a leader in education for a long time. A prominent educator and philanthropist named Master Maiya Das spearheaded the establishment of an elementary and middle school at the turn of the century and donated his own land and resources to build an impressive school. Students from all over the area came to these schools before moving to Khalsa High School, Bundala, about five kilometers away.  The current government primary and high schools stand at the same site.

Pharwala used to be the administrative centre of the area for many years. Pharwala, as the Zail headquarters, looked after 20 surrounding villages. It was one of four villages in Jalandhar district and the only one in Tehsil Phillaur to have paved streets in 1936. Prominent persons like Sardar Swaran Singh Sanghera (Zaildar) played a key role in the growth and development of the village and that of the Jalandhar Central Co-operative Bank. Later on, my cousin, Harbans Singh Sanghera, who was an integral part of this bank, retired as Managing Director of this historic financial institute.

The Red Book is a landmark manual on astrology. This book is famous all over the world in the field of astrology. It was put together by a prominent Pharwala resident and a retired civil servant, Pandit Roop Chand Joshi though officially it has one of his close relatives, Pandit Girdhari Lal Joshi as its author. Lala Amar Nath was another prominent citizen of Pharwala. He was well known around the area as one of the best, if not the best Hakeem (Homeopath) in the region. People from far and wide would travel long distances to seek treatment from him for their ailments. In addition to that there have been numerous prominent residents of Pharwala who have made a commendable contribution to the well-being of their fellow villagers and others in India and abroad.

Pharwala is well known for its military officers, patwaris and teachers. Some of its residents have reached the top ranks in the army, community work, academia and other professions. Similarly in other areas, Pharwala residents have made huge strides. Pharwala’s football (soccer) team was one of the best in the region and won lot of trophies and awards at the local, regional and provincial levels. For the past several years Pharwala’s NRIs- well settled in various countries abroad- have been making a valuable contribution in on-going improvements to their native village.

This fair sized village has four gurdwaras, a Hindu temple and even a church. Pharwala is truly a multicultural community where people live in peace and harmony. Every time I visit my hometown it brings back the pleasant childhood memories.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

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