Joginder Kaur Dhaliwal
Joginder Kaur Dhaliwal (born on June 15, 1942) grew up in an especially devout Sikh family. One of the Punjabi women who arrived in Yuba City when the Sikh community was still fairly small, she was fortunate that her close family had already settled in the area before she arrived in 1969 with her husband. Unlike many of the pioneer women who arrived in the fifties and sixties who experienced intense loneliness during their first months in America, Joginder actually reunited with her family in California. After living briefly with her parents, she moved into her own family home. She quickly devoted herself to her family and to performing seva at the newly-established Yuba City Gurdwara.
Born into a strict Amritdhari Sikh family, her parents Ranjit Singh and Sant Kaur Grewal passed on their strong faith to their children. Joginder’s early life was peripatetic due to the disruptions caused by the Second World War. During the war, her father worked at the Tatanagar Steel plant in Bihar, and the family lived nearby. Whenever there was an intense period of German bombing, the whole family except for the father returned to Punjab for their safety. In addition to childhood games, she spent a great deal of time performing shabad kirtan with her siblings and performing paath (scriptural reading).
Joginder completed high school, which demonstrates the unusual value her family placed on education for girls as well as boys. She knows multiple languages, including Punjabi, as well as some Hindi, Bengali and English.
Joginder, Punjab, India, c. 1960.
Joginder (right) with Gita, Anandpur, Punjab, 1966.
In 1969, Swarn Kaur Johl sponsored her younger sister, Joginder, and her husband to join them in Yuba City. Smiling, Joginder remembers feeling happy when the family was reunited in California. The two sisters were very close. For Joginder, her older sister was like a second mother. When Joginder arrived, her older sister lived in a home on Nuestro Road. Shortly afterwards, Joginder’s family also bought a home on the same street so that they could spend their days together. Joginder also recalls the monthly sangrand prayer meetings in which her sister would explain the scripture and everyone would perform shabad kirtans at her sister’s home on Nuestro Road. Other than Stockton Sikh Temple, which was a three hour drive, Swarn Kaur’s home was a main gathering place for devout local Sikhs to perform religious rites and devotional kirtans. This was especially true before Yuba City’s Sikh Temple became active in the early 1970s.
Joginder is known for her sweet and giving nature. She will go to any length to help people.
Joginder is the mother of three children: Daljit Singh Dhaliwal, Ravinder Kaur Dhaliwal, and Sukhvinder Singh Dhaliwal. They have three grandchildren: Aman Johal, Tarin Dhaliwal, and Jairen Dhaliwal.
Photos courtesy of the Dhaliwal and Grewal families.
Interviews by Nicole Ranganath and Dal Dhaliwal, ZOOM, October 8, 2020 and July 22, 2022.