NRIs are Building Replicas of Planes and Statue of Liberty atop Their Houses as a Tribute to USA and Canada

The United States is long-haul flights away from India, but the Statue of Liberty is a short domestic flight from any corner in India. You need not apply for a US visa or take a donkey (dunki) route to visit the place where replicas of the world-famous Lady Liberty holding a torch are coming up as rooftop sculptures in India. The Statue of Liberty, ideally a universal symbol of freedom, has come over the years to symbolize aspirations, dreams, opportunities, but also an escape from poverty for the people of rural Punjab.

“In ‘Dunki’ movie starring Shah Rukh and Taapsee Pannu, a family living in some Punjab village erected a replica of the Lady Liberty atop the house to celebrate their daughter’s NRI status. However, we are talking about the real, not reel. Interestingly, the Statue of Liberty is the latest manifestation of the success and prosperity that Punjabi NRIs have achieved in America or Canada. Their fancy to replicating the statue in their native villages gained momentum after the Netflix premier of Dunki,” said Sourav Agarwal, the Editor of Travel Beats, a leading portal for Indian Diaspora in the US.

Statue of Liberty replicas in Punjab, rooftop sculptures in rural Punjab, immigrants from Punjab

PC: Alok Jain @weekendinvesting

Recently, a towering replica of the statue atop a house under construction in rural Punjab has become a social media sensation. Made from fibre glass, the 18-foot tall replica is Gurmeet Singh Brar’s tribute to America where he found a better way of living. Currently settled in the state of Indiana, he had moved to the US in 2006 believing that the grass is greener there. The rooftop statue not only makes the house stand tall in the neighborhood but also signifies the US connection that his extended family boasts of in the village under Punjab’s Moga district.

Another NRI made headlines for spending a whopping INR 3 lakh on installing a 20-foot tall replica of New York’s Lady Liberty atop his village house in Jalandhar district of Punjab. Identified as Dalbir Singh, he moved to Canada after a few years of stay in the US. Visible from paddy fields at a distance, the rooftop sculpture helps to connect his NRI status with his roots. It is a matter of pride for his father and the village too. Precisely, this is the third replica of the Statue of Liberty in Punjab. The very first rooftop version of the iconic statue was installed a decade ago.

Many Punjab villages are open-air galleries with larger-than-life rooftop sculptures modelled on airplanes, military tanks, farming vehicles, and various mundane objects like pressure cooker. Those who make it big at home or abroad choose to manifest their profession, prosperity, achievement, and identity in those concrete shapes. Most of such rooftop models are not mere brick-and-mortar structures, but fully-functional water tanks.

Among the landmarks in Beas, a riverfront town in Punjab is a house with its water tank modelled on an Air India plane. Aircraft-like structures perched atop the roof continue to serve as a statement of their family members’ first international flights to America, Canada, Europe, or Australia. In some cases, it acts as a constant reminder to the young members who grow up with the ambition to fly to a ‘greener’ land of opportunity and opulence. Punjab has houses with rooftop water tank models inspired by Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and other airlines.

Punjab houses with rooftop planes, NRIs houses in rural Punjab


In rural Punjab, households with agricultural prosperity have a tractor built atop the roof. Houses with massive sculptures inspired by sports or athletic figures are identified as residences of those who have made it big in national or international sports events. Rooftop water tanks built in the shape of a military tank belong to the houses whose male members have worked in the army. The house with a pressure cooker-shaped water tank is the native residence of a Punjabi NRI who owns a restaurant chain in New Zealand.

Interestingly, some households in Punjab are so high on patriotism that their rooftops feature a statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh with pride. It is said that the idea of decorating the rooftop with specific sculptures emerged in the 1970s when immigrants from Punjab, India began building homes in their villages.

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