As you know- I’m Polish woman married to Punjabi man. Together we create Polish-Punjabi fabulous fusion 🙂
This year, we celebrate 10 years as a couple so I’ve had enough time to learn few things about Punjabis 🙂 In fact, I have developed the whole New Punjabi Alphabet. It’s my own, subjective point of view, so please don’t feel offended. I love Punjabis, Sikhs and overall India.
On top of that I have to admit Polish and Punjabi people are similar in many ways. You will be surprised! 🙂
The Punjabi Alphabet
- A for Alcohol– Punjabis like to drink – so do Polish:) Cheers! However, Polish eat & drink and eat & drink and eat & drink and they go on for the whole evening and night. Polish people can drink litres of vodka and still be able to function, but Punjabis- don’t try this at home or at the party! I know you Guys are up for any challenge, but just stick to your whisky and be happy 🙂 Punjabis don’t eat while drinking, just munch on some snacks. I believe they want to feel tipsy fast and enjoy that state for a while 😛 Then, after few glasses of whisky and a couple of hours of loud conversation, food arrives (plenty of food).
- B for Bhangra– When you marry Punjabi, your life will turn into Bhangra 😛 You will be dancing even without any reason. You will be listening to Punjabi music at home, in the car, at the party. After a period of liking it, you will start disliking it, having enough, almost on the edge of hating it. Then, the Punjabi beat will hit you. You will start singing all these songs subconsciously. You will start feeling that beat within you and start dancing completely unaware. Eventually, you will start loving Bhangra and Punjabi music forever, like me 🙂
- C for Chapati (Roti)– If you want to be a true Punjabi or a perfect daughter-in-law, you have to make perfectly round and soft chapatis. Hm…. I guess I must have some other qualities then 😛 My parents-in-law agreed to a marriage before me making even one chapati for them 😛 Nowadays, I make occasionally chapatis, but it’s not a common practice. Luckily, we’ve got a local Punjabi chef who saves my (our) life 😛 My husband and my son are both chapati lovers, like every other Punjabi.
- D for Dupatta– Punjabi women always wear dupatta, either with Punjabi suit or with kurta. It’s a long scarf worn across both shoulders, over the neck or around head. I don’t know how they do it but it never falls, even with children around them. I’m not so perfect. My dupatta sometimes ends up on the floor and I don’t even notice it immediately. I just pick it up later, smile and pretend like nothing happened 🙂
- E for Evil Eye– Punjabis, like many other nations, believe in the power of Evil Eye. It happens when other people wish you bad things or simply are jealous about you/your life/your family etc. Parents often put a black mark on babies face to protect them from the evil eye. To be honest, even my parents in Poland believe that after meeting certain people bad luck happens to them. Those people create bad energy around. That’s another Polish-Punjabi similarity 🙂
- F for Family– Punjabis are very family-oriented. Family is the most important in the world. That’s really great! I mean close family (husband, wife, children, grandparents), further family (aunties, uncles, cousins) and broad family (uncle’s wife’s brother’s son, auntie’s husband’s sister and her husband’s cousins :P). They really care about others and want to know what’s going on, where and why 😛 Polish women resemble identical attitude, another common thing! 🙂
- G for Generosity (and Gurudwara and Gurus)– If you think you are generous, forget it! You aren’t! Unless you are Punjabi/Sikh (let’s not mention Bill Gates and his friends-that’s another level :P). These guys are crazily generous. They will earn and then give & share and give & share. I met lots of Punjabis/Sikhs and almost all of them have extremely big, golden hearts. My husband gives huge amounts of money to charities or others in need, but what’s the most beautiful thing is, he never tells me how much he donates. If he tells anyone, it doesn’t count- it looks like showing off. A good person doesn’t have to prove he is good in front of others. It’s one of the greatest thing I’ve learnt from my husband- to give others and don’t expect anything in return. God will give us anyways. Generosity is closely connected to Gurudwara, where anybody (literally anybody regardless of their race and religion) is welcome for a free hot meal. Isn’t it amazing?
- H for Huge Celebrations– Punjabis like to party! They celebrate every birthday, anniversary, festival, engagement, (few days long) wedding as well as family meeting, random get together and …everything else 😛 When I went to Chandigarh for the first time, two Mamajis (Uncles) threw small party to welcome me in their city/in the family. I was sure there were around 8-9 people invited to the dinner, but eventually there were almost 30 people at the party and it was only the closest family. There were plenty of drinks and food. Initially, the party was indoor, but suddenly spread outdoor (to terrace and gardens). It could be considered as a small wedding party in Poland 😛 But it was just a simple Punjabi family meeting 🙂 Even my nearly 3 years old son loves the word ‘party’. As soon as somebody mentions ‘party’ he replies: I’m going to the party (doesn’t matter who throws it, where it is etc. :P). He’s got hot Punjabi blood flowing inside him 😛
- I for India – Punjabis are very proud. They are proud to be Punjabis and proud to be Indians. They love India- their motherland (please notice, there are also Punjabis from Pakistan). However, sometimes they feel a little bit superior to other Indians. Hm… still can’t figure out why. That’s a bit scary tendency though.
- J for Ji (at the end of someone’s name to convey respect)– e.g. Daddyji. It is really important in Punjabi’s culture to give respect, especially to elders and other family members/relatives. When you address somebody, it’s better if you finish his/her name with -Ji. It’s always better to be too polite than a little rude 🙂 After a while, you will know who should be addressed this way. Before we got married, I asked my parents-in-law how they want to be called and they chose differently- Dad = Daddyji, Mum = Mummy.
- K for Khalsa or 5 Ks– Khalsa means ‘Pure’ or ‘Community of the Pure’. Khalsas are Sikhs (men and women) who have been introduced into the Sikh faith by undergoing a special baptism ceremony. In order to join Khalsa people need to follow 5 Ks: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (a wooden brush for the hair), Kara (a metal brancelet), Kachera (short cotton underwear) and Kirpan (small sword/knife).
- L for Lassi– Punjabis are Lassi lovers. It is a drink made of yoghurt, milk, fruit (mango is the king) and spices. It can be served sweet or salty. When Lassi is on the table during the meal, then food immediately tastes better 🙂
- M for Masala and Mango– Punjabis love food and masala is very important. It’s a spice mix (dry or paste) which adds flavour to any food. If masala is not right or not done properly then the whole charm and flavour of the meal is gone. I still struggle when cooking Indian food from time to time. Sometimes , using the same recipe I can make perfect Kadai Paneer and other times it just doesn’t taste as it should. Well, experience grows with time. Letter M also reminds me always about Mango- king of fruit according to Punjabis 🙂 My husband introduced me to Mango almost 10 years ago and I have to admit- there is no other fruit like that in the whole world.
- N for Names– When you marry into Punjabi family, you will learn every member of the family has its own name- besides the usual first name (Rohit/Preeti). There are no aunties & uncles, cousins etc. That’s too easy for Punjabis 😛 Grandparents from mum’s side are called different than grandparent’s from dad’s side. The same is with other family members. You have to learn who is Nani, Nana, Dadi, Dada, Didi, Jijaji, Bhaiya, Bhabhi, Mama, Mami, Massi, Massa, Chacha, Chachi, Taauu, Tai, Bua, Phupha etc. Crazy stuff 😛
- O for Open Home/House – I’ve noticed one thing. If you keep one, front room in your house tidy all the time, then your life is less stressed 🙂 Guests like to come often, at any time, not always pre-invited 😛 You either get used to that or… not 😛 In the UK, our main living-room is mostly occupied by our small son and his toys, so I’m not that ready everytime. But I’ve learnt how to clean it quickly 😛
- P for Parathas– Punjabis and Parathas are like two pieces sticked by super glue- inseparable and unbreakable. When you marry Punjabi, you will learn very soon what is his favourite breakfast- Parathas! 🙂 They can be plain (atta- what flour, water, ghee- clarified butter) or stuffed with aloo (potatoes), gobi (cauliflower), muli (radish), paneer (cheese), paalak (spinach), matar (peas), daal (lentils) or whatever is there in the household. Another important information about Paratha is the shape- it must be square (at least for my husband). Round parathas are not edible 😛 Overall, forget about dieting and start enjoying your life 🙂 Punjabis are not fans of skinny people.
- Q for qualities of Punjabis– Punjabis have lost of wonderful qualities, but the most noticeable are great sense of humour and very optimistic nature. You can never be bored having Punjabi around you. He will always lift you up, be there for you and help you when you need him (or even if you don’t :P).
- R for Rusk & Chai– This is a very common Punjabi tradition which my son follows every second morning 😛 Punjabis love Rusk (hard, dry biscuit or small, thick, milky toast) dipped into Chai (tea). They eat it first thing in the morning or in the afternoons while chatting about life or other’s life 😛 My son is now almost addicted to Rusk and Chai and so do I ! 🙂
- S for Sat Sri Akal and Sikhism– When you meet a Punjabi Sikh you greet him with “Sat Sri Akal” (Truth is the Holy God) and he replies you with the same phrase. What is interesting, even in Poland in older times we had a similar religious greeting “Szczesc Boze” (May God be with You) and other person used to reply “Daj Boze” (God bless you). Sikhism is much younger religion than Catholicism and many Sikhs still obey their rules and maintain their traditions. On the other hand, many modern Catholics aren’t too interested in showing or talking about their religion.
- T for touching feet– It’s a sign of respect to touch feet of elders. I’m not talking here about 3 years older sister-in-law, but somebody who is 20 years older than you. I always touch feet of our friends’ parents or any older relative from Bikram’s family. Sometimes, some of his aunties look very young and I have to ask my mum-in-law whether she is aunty for me or not (:P). If she is auntie then I bend down straight away, if she is just a cousin then I stick to “Hello, nice to meet you” 🙂
- U for USA/UK– Punjabis are very proud when they have a family relative (or many relatives) somewhere abroad, especially in the USA, Canada or in the UK. They are often treated as special guests during family meetings and receive a lot of attention. It doesn’t matter whether they are worth it or not, they are from USA/UK/Canada and that’s matter 😉
- V for Very Colourful Clothes– What’s your favourite colour of clothes? Black? White? Grey? Forget it! Start loving intensive pink, yellow, green, red, purple, blue, shiny ornaments, gold and mix of 2-3 colours together. Plain clothes are boring and look cheap 😛
- W for white skin– It’s not only a Punjabi issue, but overall India’s issue. Everybody wants to be ligther, brighter and just fair. They have endless amount of treatments to have a fair skin, thousands of skin lightening creams and even shampoos! 😛 In Europe, everybody wants to be darker- get tanned either naturally (by sun) or artificially (by going to sunbeds). Why can’t we be happy with what we have and who we are???
- X for …. I have no clue!!! Please, help me to come up with any idea 🙂
- Y for young Punjabi/Sikh names– Guys, have you ever heard about somebody called Happy, Lucky, Honey? Well, if you haven’t then let me introduce you to the Punjabi world where Happy Singh, Lucky Singh, Honey Singh are common names 🙂
- Z for zero smoking– I have never seen (so far) any Punjabi/Sikh smoking a cigarette. I’ve seen them drinking, few of them smoking shisha (hookah), but never a cigarette or cigar. I know that Sikhism prohibits smoking, but also prohibits the use of intoxicants in any form which means drinking as well. So… I believe it’s much more complicated issue and I’m not an expert to have a discussion about it.
Do you agree with me? Or maybe you completely disagree with many opinions?
If you have any other interesting ideas about New Punjabi Alphabet or would like to add anything, please do not hesitate and write it down in comments.
Share your other thoughts in comments as well.