World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Punjabi Mexican American

Article Id: WHEBN0011618164
Reproduction Date:

Title: Punjabi Mexican American  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Punjabi American, Asian Hispanic and Latino Americans, Mexican American, Indian immigration to Mexico, Chicano
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Punjabi Mexican American

The Punjabi Mexican American community, the majority of which is localized to Yuba City, California is a distinctive cultural phenomenon holding its roots in a migration pattern that occurred almost a century prior. The first meeting of these cultures occurred in the Imperial Valley in 1907, near the largest irrigation system in the Western hemisphere.

Punjabi immigration

For decades in the early 20th century, Punjabi farming families sent their sons out of Punjab to earn money.[1][2] Intending to return to the Punjab, only a handful of men brought their wives and families. In the United States, however, due to changed immigration laws it was not possible for the families of Punjabi workers to join them. Beyond this, poor wages and working conditions convinced the Punjabi workers to pool their resources, lease land and grow their own crops, thereby establishing themselves in the newly budding farming economy of northern California.[3] In northern California’s Sacramento Valley, Punjabis tended to work in gangs, and were called “Hindu crews”.

Mexican immigration

Almost one million Mexican immigrants began entering America in the 1910s, shortly after the Mexican Revolution, with a large percentage arriving in families. A small number of these families picked cotton in fields farmed by Punjabi men. The Punjabi men are thought to have chosen women of Mexican ancestry for many reasons. Mexican women were accessible in southern California; in the central and northern areas of the state most Punjabi men remained bachelors..

Mexican women, much like the women of Punjab, covered their heads and bodies to protect themselves from the blazing sun while working in the fields.[3] Mexicans and Punjabis shared a rural way of life; with similar types of food and family values, and thus maintained a similar material and social culture. Mexicans and Punjabis shared an initially lower class status in American society.[1]


Punjabi men married Mexican women laborers and there were eventually almost four hundred of these biethnic couples clustered in California’s agricultural valley.[1] Husbands and wives spoke to each other in rudimentary English or Spanish. The men tended to be older, in their late thirties or forties, and the women in their early twenties. Punjabi men learned Spanish to deal with Mexican agricultural laborers and to speak to their wives. Some Punjabi men adopted Spanish names or nicknames: Miguel for Maghar, Andrés for Inder, Mondo for Mahinder.[1]

The fathers transmitted little of Punjabi culture to their wives and children, except for food and funeral practices. Cooking in the home drew from both Mexican and Punjabi cuisines and the men taught their wives to cook chicken curry, roti, and various vegetable curries. For example, the Rasul family in Yuba City runs the only Mexican restaurant in California that features chicken curry and roti. Another important retention of Punjabi culture was the disposition of the body upon death. The Hindus and Sikhs insisted upon cremation, then uncommon in North America, and Muslims carried out orthodox burial ceremonies for each other (though the plots in which they are buried in rural California have since been misnamed "Hindu plots"). The wives were buried in the Mexican Catholic section of local cemeteries, as were the children.[1]

See also

Other merged inter-ethnic/racial groups in North America


  1. ^ a b c d e Karen Leonard, PhD (May 1989). "The World & I". The Washington Times Corporation. 
  2. ^ Palhotra, Nishi. "The 'dirty Hindus'." Hardnews. March 2008. Retrieved on April 15, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Jayasri Majumdar Hart. "Roots in the sand". PBS. 

Further reading

  • Leonard, Karen (1994). Making Ethnic Choices: California's Punjabi Mexican Americans. Temple University Press. p. 362.  

External links

  • Article on Punjabi-Mexicans
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.