Everyone in India is your brother or sister and are treated just as so. At times it can be confusing when my family refer to my elder sister as I don't have one. They are actually referring to a female elder relative which could mean anyone as family's are massive in India. After we visited all our relatives who attended My Big Fat Punjabi Wedding, it left me feeling like I was related to the whole state of Punjab!
Whilst this might seem overwhelming I find it comforting knowing that I have so many people I can rely on. I have written about daily life amongst the general public but daily life amongst family and friends is a vastly different picture. Everyone is eager to help a lending hand. But that also means that everyone knows everyone's business. Which personally I don't mind as there really isn't much that I keep to myself. It can be a surprise at first when you first meet someone and they already know so much about you.
Family's also tend to live close to each other. In my family's instance I live next door to my father in laws eldest brother and youngest brother. So whenever you are home alone and need company you just walk down the road. Or better yet if my mother in law cooks something I don't fancy I just ask my Aunt what's for dinner. They are all only too happy to oblige.
When I first arrived in India family came to visit me from far and near to welcome me into the family. All the women will greet you with a big warm bone crushing hug. One of my relatives told me that's not how you hug, this is how you hug. She then threw both her arms wide open and wrapped them around me as she squeezed me tightly into her bosom. We laugh about it every time I see her now.
Parents also support their children till the day they are married. It is the bride that will leave their parent's home to live with her husband's family. The eldest son will inherit the parent's fortunes once they pass. It is his responsibility to care for his aging parents until such time. Should he have any sisters it is also his responsibility to care for them should they be single and living at home once their parents pass. Parents will also pay for their children's weddings which can be quite cumbersome given weddings are such an auspicious occasion for Punjabi People. Depending on the family, most children are encouraged to live their dreams with their parents support. My parent in laws support everything that my husband has chosen to do in life such as live in Australia and marry a foreign bride. You can read about our love story here in this post: How I Met My Indian Husband Online.
Punjabi people are extremely passionate people and wear their heart on their sleeves. Which can lead to a lot of laughter and good times, but also a lot of arguments. Naturally living next door to family there will be disagreements and there was such a disagreement the other day. The whole neighbourhood were standing out the front of their house trying to listen in on the commotion. I went outside for some peace and quiet only to have all my neighbours approach me and offer me a seat as I had sat on the side of the road. They then tried to discreetly find out what was all the commotion about. As I said, everyone knows everyone's business.
Considering the general public treat me with such fear and disdain it is the polar opposite with family life In India. I have been embraced with open arms by all my friends and family. It really is a welcome breath of fresh air in comparison. Nevertheless 'This is India' and it has many ups and downs.
Do you get along with your Indian in laws?
What It's Like Living As A Joint Family With My Punjabi In Laws
Why I Love Punjabi People
Meeting The Punjabi In Laws