Bhagwanti Ohri (April 15, 1917 – April 19, 2014) was born in Karachi in undivided British India (in present-day Pakistan). Of all of the women featured in this project, she has one of the most unusual life histories. She immigrated to the US as a single woman in 1940 arriving before the Second World War. Bhagwanti was likely the first Hindu woman to settle in the Yuba City area.
Nearly two decades after immigrating to the US, Bhagwanti married Ram Ji Das Ohri on July 19, 1958 in San Francisco, CA when she was 44 years old. She joined her husband in the Yuba City area where he was an established farmer. Among her close friends in Yuba City were Dave Teja (a prominent district attorney) and Baldev Singh.
Harbhajan Kaur Takher with baby, Paramjit Kaur, and Bhagwanti Ohri, India Republic Day celebration, Yuba City, c 1952. Newspaper clipping courtesy of David Rai.
She is remembered for her willingness to help others. She was one of the most educated women in the post-war Punjabi community in Yuba City having earned a bachelor’s degree in India. With her knowledge, Bhagwanti helped women in many ways, including serving as a translator for Punjabi women who did not know English.
Sources: US public records and written input from Kusam Ohri received on September 15, 2022.
Bhagwanti Ohri (center) cooking with local Punjabi women, Yuba City, 1963. Photograph by Dr. Manohar Singh Grewal.