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Punjabi New Testament
“God’s Word: light for the world,” proclaimed the signs carried by children as they entered into Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in a colourful procession behind the newly revised Punjabi New Testament in print and audio on 10 April 2021. The long-awaited launch was a profoundly symbolic moment for Pakistan’s 300,000 Punjabi-speaking Christians, whose ancestors had converted to Christianity during the colonial era to escape a discriminatory caste system in which they were regarded as untouchables.
Despite the pandemic which meant that the number of attendees was limited to allow social distancing, there was an atmosphere of “great joy” as the children carried the New Testament into the church to be officially dedicated, says Rev Azhar Mushtaq, Pakistan Bible Society General Secretary Designate. Punjabi is a language spoken by around 65 million people in Pakistan, and by another 300,000 people in countries such as India, the UK and Canada. The New Testament was first translated into Punjabi in 1912 and has been revised twice since then in 1940 and 1952, but the language of the 1952 edition has become increasingly outdated for modern Punjabi speakers. “The children’s procession symbolised that the newly revised text and audio recording will open God’s Word for new generations of Punjabi Christians from all walks of life, and that it will bring light, including amidst the darkness caused by the pandemic,” concludes Azhar.