Punjabi Dating in Canada - Meeting Single Punjabi Men and Women in Vancouver, Ontario, British Columbia and other Places


Canada’s open policy of multiculturalism as opposed to assimilation attracts communities from around the world. Here groups of other ethnic origins are able to follow their own culture even as they contribute to the host country’s economy. Among the people who have gained because of this policy are the Punjabis from India and their success in balancing the two worlds is reflected in the community’s dating practices in Canada.

Punjab lies in the northwestern part of India and its adjacent areas in the neighboring country of Pakistan. The original inhabitants of this place are known as Punjabis even though they may follow different religions like Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. While Indian Punjabis are largely Sikhs and Hindus, those from Pakistan are mostly Muslims.

The first arrival of Punjabis in Canada dates back to the beginning of twentieth century when men from the Indian subcontinent decided to make their way to the North American continent in search for better economic opportunities. The earliest immigrants were either veterans of the British Indian army or small farmers who had lost their land to rapacious village moneylenders. Initially local Canadians were hostile to the Punjabi immigrants who seemed to have come to take away their jobs. However after the Second World War, there was a change in the Canadian government’s immigration policy. Not only were the earlier immigrants allowed to become naturalized Canadian citizens, but their families from the Indian subcontinent were allowed to join them in Canada. In recent years, most of the Punjabis to have arrived in Canada are professionals and skilled workers.

Today, Punjabis make up one of the most visible ethnic minorities in Canada. Figures provided by the Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census show that around 53,515 people laid claim to single or multiple ethnic Punjabi origin. The Punjabi language is in fact the fourth most spoken language in Canada after English, French and Chinese. Most of the Punjabi origin population is concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area and the Metro-Vancouver/Fraser Valley Region. Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal are among other cities which have growing communities of Indo-Canadians and Punjabis in particular.

Punjabi dating in Canada is the result of complex processes of cultural preservation, exposure to mainstream Canadian way of life as well as independent choices. One of the most definitive characteristics of dating in the community is a strong preference for partners of similar cultural and religious identity. This effectively means that Hindu Punjabis, Sikhs or Pakistani Punjabis would like to date within their own community and rarely venture into relationships with members of other ethnicities or religions. This is because in the face of dominant white Canadian culture, minority ethnic groups feel obliged to hold on to their traditions and one way to do this is to refrain from dating or at least marrying outside the community.

However migration has a way of mixing up identities too since in a foreign land, the difference between a Sikh from India or Pakistan begins to matter less than their adherence to the same religion. Moreover with increasing exposure to other ethnic groups like Canadians of French, African or Chinese origin, the young generation is more open to forging new bonds and striking new friendships.

Yet another feature of Punjabi dating in Canada is the hangover of the tradition of arranged marriage. Like other communities from the Indian subcontinent and indeed many parts of Asia, marriages are traditionally arranged by families according to various considerations of religion, community, economic status and caste. While the practice has undergone widespread modifications in recent times in order to accommodate personal choice and compatibility of partners, it still exercises its influence as the active role played by families in the choice of a life partner. In Canada, like in Indian urban upper class societies, Punjabi families have become more receptive towards the trend of dating in so far as it is a part of a healthy social life. However where serious dating is concerned, young members of the Punjabi community still feel the pressure of conforming to traditional values.

In order to find a middle path between ancient traditions and modern expectations, elders among the Punjabi community in Canada regularly organize cultural events on religious occasions and festivals. The Baisakhi or Diwali celebrations are a good time for the entire Punjabi community to come together and interact over steaming cups of tea and spicy ‘chole-bhature’. These get-togethers also make ideal venues for the young people seeking potential dating partners in the community while families are assured of cultural and religious similarity, no matter who their children choose. Various Punjabi groups in Canada like the Punjabi Association of Quebec or the Punjabi Arts Association of Toronto also play an important role in bringing together the members of the community by organizing cultural events, music concerts or religious celebrations.

While the young Punjabi crowd may not be averse to dating from their own community, finding suitable partners in a country where they are a minority group does pose practical problems. It is here that the internet comes as a godsend with various websites bringing together young members of the community from different parts of the country and even the world. Sites focussing on Indo-Canadian dating have links to Punjabi members while popular Punjabi dating sites also cater to members located in Canada and other parts of North America. Dating sites like these not only allow members to get to know each other by email, chat and social networking but also ensure a degree of liberality and open-mindedness among its members since they target the contemporary generation who have been brought up according to the multi-cultural ethos of Canada.

Even though forming a single ethnic group, Punjabis in Canada may not be a culturally homogenous community. Members may follow different religions and identify with different countries of origin like India or Pakistan. Moreover educational backgrounds, economic status and the length of time spent in Canada also influence cultural practices which in turn influence dating and relationships in a community.