American Turban

Picture of the Day: The Punjabi-Mexican-Americans

"(From Karen Leonard’s Punjabi Mexican American Papers/ Courtesy of Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries ) - Valentina Alvarez and Rullia Singh are seen posing for their wedding photo in 1917. They are among the thousands of Punjabi-Mexican couples which sprouted up across the Southwestern United States in lieu of anti-immigration laws." (source: The Washington Post)

“(From Karen Leonard’s Punjabi Mexican American Papers/ Courtesy of Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries ) – Valentina Alvarez and Rullia Singh are seen posing for their wedding photo in 1917. They are among the thousands of Punjabi-Mexican couples which sprouted up across the Southwestern United States in lieu of anti-immigration laws.” (source: The Washington Post)

A recent article in the Washington Post discusses the fading history of Punjabi-Mexican Americans who arose from the unions of Punjabi (and predominantly Sikh) men with Mexican women at the turn of the twentieth century, largely in California, as a result of strict immigration and citizenship policies:

“Many Punjabis married the Mexican women that worked on their land because of their cultural similarities and proximity,” [Karen Leonard, author of “Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi-Mexican-Americans“] explained. “And when they’d show up at the county record office, they could both check ‘brown.’ No one knew the difference.”

The Punjabi men chose Mexican women for a host of other reasons: Physically, Mexican women at the time were thought to resemble Punjabis, Leonard said. Both communities also shared a rural way of life, cooked similar types of food and had a similar material culture.

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2 comments

  1. HS Vachoa

    Good article and very interesting to read however, the treatment of discrimination given by these Sikhs was appaling to me.

    “They even kicked out the Mexican women from the gurdwara, even though those Mexican women helped fund it,” Leonard said.

    What a shameful way these Sikhs have acted!

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