Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Punjabi's are Loud, Gujrati's are Money-Minded....State-Based Stereotypes in India

One of the things I often hear from other pardesi women is how most of the Punjabis they know are very loud, outspoken and ...well...arrogant. A few of the pardesi women I've heard this from were in relationships with Punjabi men so it's not like they based that off of only what they had heard. They see these behaviors in action in their own communities *sometimes.*

Punjabi's also seem to be heavily associated with the Sikh religion. Many people see a Sikh turban and instantly think he's Punjabi. While the majority are Punjabi, Punjab is a diverse landscape with Hindu's, Muslims, Christians, Jains and many other non-Sikh individuals. Surf the net for "Punjabi" and you're almost certain to be led to many, many, many, many, many, Sikh websites. So it's no wonder Punjab has the stereotype it has. Part of the stereotype comes from the well known Sikh activists (who are outspoken indeed) and from the Golden Temple being located there, the anti-Sikh riots and history, etc. I could go on but most of you have already heard all these things coming of out of Punjab.

Sikhs are the majority in Punjab, making up almost 60% of the total population. That's a large number but it leaves 40% (still nearly half) of the state being of other religions. It's all in how you look at it. Worldwide, Punjabi NRI's are known for their lavish lifestyles. I would assume, though I can find no statistical data nor do I know many Punjabi NRI's, that this is another stereotype.

Gujrati's are often thought of as money-minded. They're well-known as business owners, both in and out of India. One disturbing stereotype I ran across while searching online is that Gujrati's are gutless. That one upset me. I read several references of women wanting to walk all over them because they were not typically known as fighters. Um, hello? What happened to general human nature? I read slanders about all Gujju's being vegetarian and couldn't help but wonder why in the world my personal, life-long Gujju friends all eat meat then. Could this be an NRI only concept? Surely not. Alas, I must digress that all of these things are stereotypes and should not be taken seriously.

Uttar Pradesh citizens are known for their corruption and criminal mentalities. I can't even count the number of times I've heard this stereotype. I heard it from those I've interacted with personally, I've seen it implied in news reports on both TV and in print. It's an ugly stereotype to say the least. What I personally saw with my own two eyes didn't give me that picture. I visited U.P. in April of 2011. I saw women in sari's doing road construction work. I saw children carrying sacks that weighed more than they do. So while there may be corruption and criminals there, my overall impression was that these people are doing what has to be done to survive. Every city, state and country in the world has crime and corruption.

*Just as a side note, this same type of stereotyping occurs in the US as well. For my Indian readers, if you're not familiar with this in America, google for "West Virginia jokes" and you'll see what I mean. 

What are some stereotypes you've heard about states in India?
Have they affected you and your family?
Where do you think stereotypes like this come from?

Stereotypes in Print:
Times of India:  Parineeti & I are true Punjabis: Karan Tacker
DNA India: Why business-minded Gujaratis back Modi!
The Hindu: ‘Criminals' and crorepatis in fray in Uttar Pradesh


  1. There are certain communities in India who are more reserved and silent and there are certain others which are loud and boisterous. Some put more emphasis on education, arts and the like and some are more business oriented. These stereotypes arise from the relative importance different communities put on different things in life. Bengalis, South Indians, Maharastrians, Gujaratis are more quiet because boisterous behavior is being frowned. Bengalis marriages are silent without much band baaja. The other communities which are more macho, tend to mistake this for weakness, because for them life is like a battle where you have to flaunt your physical and material powers to get on top of others.

    Sikhs, because of their religion are more disciplined through they share the same disdain from other communities with other punjabis. The non sikh punjabis are the worst of their kind, crass, loud and shallow. Delhi is full of them, Oh boy. I tend to think of India as a beautiful garden where all kinds of flowers bloom. This garden would have been so boring and drab if all the flowers looked the same. This is what makes India so unique.

  2. Oh this is funny as my Husbo is a punjabi who lives in gujarat. He is loud, arrogant, and very money minded! So true!

  3. My husband is Hindu Punjabi and is very quiet as is most of his family. He's shy, reserved and "innocent." I knew Sikhs in Amritsar who were loud and boisterous. A lot of relationships and people seemed very shallow though, regardless of religion.

  4. Lol. What a combination. Most Gujrati's I know are quiet so I'm sure your hubby stands out.

  5. Search Engine OptimizationJune 14, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    @American Punjaban
    For ME State Or Boundaries Doe Not Dife The Mind State OR Behavior Of The Person.
    There Is Some Other States Too In India Where You Find Totally Different.

  6. Wow! Living in West Bengal, I could go on and on about Bengalis, although my wife could do a more complete and perhaps more accurate listing (eating fish rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; gossiping all of the time; laziness; etc).
    I do want to say that EVERYONE one here (including Muslims and other Hindus)--or perhaps every MAN here (although I have seen a couple of women do the following--spits. I sometimes think that the monsoon floods are caused not by the rains but by all of the spitting that is done here. I have been to a few other states, and it does not seem to be so prevalent elsewhere.

  7. Yeah I don't like the spitting either but apparently it's a problem in I've heard. I saw it occasionally Punjab.

  8. Very interesting. There are very similar classifications here in the U.S., some with not-so-friendly names. In general, stereotypes = bad.

  9. Thank you for sharing this information. I love learning about other cultures and places.

  10. I am in Boston and there are definite stereotypes about how we act around here. Sadly, a lot of them are true.

  11. I know some American men who are loud and arrogant gutless and money minded. I feel it's cultural but not in a race cultural difference. I feel it's where you were raised and grew up cultural difference environment. Nature vs nurture.The same two men can grow up in the same area and turn out to be complete opposites one loud one quiet. Which I have personally seen living in Toronto Ontario Canada. I grew up in a melting pot full of all kinds of different races it's not race but environment that compels human behavior to become so different.

  12. You're exactly right. I know some real jackass Americans as well. I also know some wonderful Indians. Race really isn't the issue at all. It's family culture and environment.

  13. Many stereotypes are bad and also entirely wrong. We definitely do the same thing here in the US with South/North stereotypes, 'people from Texas,' 'Californians,' etc. It's not good to label people this way or think that all of any group act the same.

  14. Interesting I like learning about other cultures and found this to be very informative. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

  15. Interesting ... what I have heard of India to date are its caste system, its outsourcing industry, the Gandhi's, the Taj Mahal and Bollywood. This was an eye-opener. I guess stereotyping is inherent in every society. I've learned that the use of stereotypes is a major way of simplifying our social world, i.e. reducing the amount of thinking when meeting a new person or culture. Now therein lies the problem...

  16. TouristMeetsTravelerMarch 3, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    I live in Montreal and there are certainly stereo types English and French and actually a lot of it is true.

  17. I couldn't agree more! Reducing our level of thinking on any topic is problematic. We want that quick, instant fix and it's unhealthy when we use that on people. It prevents us from seeing the true nature of the individual.

  18. I don't know enough to have a stereotype in mind... Plus, I try to stay away from stereotypes because many of them tend to be offensive.

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