Kushlia Devi Hunji (February 18, 1918 – January 6, 1993) was born in a village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. She joined her husband, Hardial, in Yuba City in 1952. Shortly afterwards, she distinguished herself by completing her college education and building a business career as a real estate broker.
Hardial Singh Hunji (Kushlia’s husband) first immigrated to the US in 1948. He joined his father, Gurdas Singh, who had arrived in 1910. In 1952, Kushlia traveled with her two daughters, Ablasha and Amer, to join her husband in Yuba City. Their third daughter, Prem, was born shortly afterwards.
Kushlia was fiercely determined to achieve her educational and professional goals in her new country. She learned English and became a naturalized citizen on June 17, 1968. Kushlia also graduated from Yuba College with an Associate of Arts Degree. Then, she started her business in real estate as an agent and eventually a broker.
After Kushlia’s passing, her husband donated $1.8 million dollars in land and cash to build the Sri Narayan Hindu temple in her honor in Yuba City in 1995. As a successful peach, walnut and prune farmer, he had promised his wife that he would build Yuba City’s first Hindu temple for her when he was financially able to do so. He was the only Punjabi pioneer to establish a major public institution dedicated to his late wife. The temple is still managed by the Hunji family on Franklin Road.
Photos courtesy of the Hunji family.
Sources: Public records (certificate of naturalization and vital statistics), newspaper accounts, and interviews with the daughter of Kushlia Devi Hunji, Prem Hunji Turner, Yuba City and Sacramento, December 17, 2017 and August 24, 2018.
Kushlia Devi Hunji, India, c 1952.