South Asian Weddings

Who is an ‘Asian Indian’?

Also called an Indian American, an Asian Indian refers to people of the ‘Indian Sub-continent’ descent: mainly India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The US Census bureau has officially created the term ‘Asian Indian’ since 2000, to represent the Indian Sub-continent people.

How large is the Asian Indian population in the United States?

According to the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau, the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,678,000 in 2000 to 2,319,000 in 2005: a growth rate of 38%, the highest for any Asian-American community. In 2005, the Indian American community became the second largest Asian community in the United States after the Chinese-American community, edging out the Filipino-Americans to third place.

Asian Indians are most heavily concentrated in the following order: California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

What is the state-wise break-up?

The population break-up, as of 2005, is as follows:

California            449, 722     43%

New York           336,423      34%

New Jersey        228,250      35%

Texas                   175,608      36%

Illinois                 157,126      26%

Florida                 95,043        34%

Georgia                79,169        72%

Michigan             78,466        44%

Virginia                77,208        58%

Pennsylvania       75,159        31%

Maryland            67,241        35%

Massachusetts    55,840        27%

Ohio                    46,702        21%

Washington         41,583        73%

(Source: American Community Survey 2005)

Why is the Asian Indian community important?

Asian Indians have outperformed all other minority and majority groups in most measures of socioeconomic achievement. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution on April 16, 2005 (House Resolution 227) to honor the Indian American community and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) graduates.  Many individuals, particularly those in the fields of medicine and technology, consider Indian Americans the epitome of the model minority.  According to the 2000 US Census Indian Americans have the highest median income of any national origin group in the United States. ($60,093), and Merril Lynch recently revealed that there are nearly 200,000 Indian American millionaires. 

One in every nine Indians in the United States is a millionaire, comprising 10% of U.S. millionaires. (Source: 2003 Merrill Lynch SA Market Study). This affluence has been matched by a high degree of educational attainment. Indians have the highest educational qualifications of all national origin groups in the United States. According to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, there are close to 41,000 Indian American doctors.  According to the 2000 census, about 64% of Asian Indians in the U.S. have attained a Bachelor’s degree or more (compared to 28% nationally). Almost 40% of all Indians have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average. (Source: The Indian American Centre for Political Awareness.) These high levels of education have enabled Indian Americans to become a productive segment of the American population, with 72.3% participating in the U.S. work force, of which 57.7% are employed in managerial and professional specialties.

Indians own 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the United States, which have a combined market value of almost $40 billion (Source: Little India Magazine). A University of California, Berkeley, study reported that one-third of the engineers in Silicon Valley are of Indian descent, while 7% of valley hi-tech firms are led by Indian CEOs. (Source: Silicon India Readership Survey) According to Technology Review 35, the technical journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “while the Indian-American population is less than one per cent in the United States, the contribution of the community is to the extent of almost 17 percent” In 2002, there were over 223,000 Asian-owned firms in the U.S., employing more than 610,000 workers, and generating more than $88 billion in revenue.

Where are they settled?

The US states with the largest Indian American populations are California, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Illinois.  There is also large Indian American populations in Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan.

The metropolitan areas with the ten largest Indian American populations are New York, San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington/Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Detriot, Houston and Atlanta.

I heard India is a land of more than twenty languages and a thousand dialects?  Is that true?

It’s true.  Hindi is the national mother tongue, though almost all Indians are comfortable with both, written and spoken English.  Some of the other popular languages are Gujarathi (spoken by people from the state of Gujarat), Tamil (spoken by people from Tamil Nadu), Malayalam (Spoken by people from Kerala) and Punjabi (spoken by people from Punjab) amongst others.  Indian Americans often keep hold of their native Indian tongues, whether it is Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu, Tulu or any of the other plethora of Indian language.

Is every Asian Indian a Hindu?

While India is home to virtually every major world religion, most Indian Americans are Hindu. There are many Hindu temples across the United States. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, ISKCON, Chinmaya Mission, and Swadhyay Pariwar are well established in the U.S. Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, and Christians from India have also established their religions in the country.

Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism to the West at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s religion. Today, Hinduism is among the fastest-growing religions in the United States and many Hindu temples, most of them built by Indian Americans have emerged in different cities and towns of America.  Hindu Philosophy and spirituality has greatly influenced American life.  More than 18 million Americans are now practicing some form of Yoga.  In particular, Kriya Yoga (Kriya means ‘deed’) was introduced to America by Paramahansa Yogananda, In addition, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada initiated a popular ISKON also known as Hare Krishna movement while preaching Bhakti Yoga.

Among Indian Muslims the prominent organizations include the Indian Muslim Council – USA. A large percentage of American Muslims are of Indian origin. Indian Muslims are largely absorbed into mainstream American Muslim culture.  Indian Christians are also a large group in America and are represented mainly between Malayali People and Indians from Goa.

What is the ‘Asian Indian’ view on Marriage?

Indian Americans' views on marriage vary among generations. Recent immigrants tend to be more socially conservative and prefer to marry within one's own caste and regional community (i.e. Gujarati with Gujarati, Tamil with Tamil, Telugu with Telugu, etc).

Indian Americans born and raised in the U.S. tend to be more open-minded with marriage. While the majority marry within their race, interracial marriage is becoming more popular with the number of interracial marriages estimated to be as high as 20%.

So how should I greet an ‘Asian Indian’?

“Namaste’ is the traditional way to greet any Asian Indian, irrespective of which part of India they come from, but a ‘Hello’ would do just fine too!

We hope you found these explanations helpful.  For any new words that you might need help with, feel free to drop us a line at southasianweddings@njwedding.com.


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