Two brothers, Bakhtawar and Udham Singh Purewal, were among the most successful Punjabi farmers in the Yuba City area in the post-war period. They played a significant role in strengthening the Punjabi community by donating land to build Yuba City’s Sikh Temple in the late 1960s.
The eldest brother, Bakhtawar Purewal, arrived in the US in 1951 with limited resources and a fifth grade education. His uncle, Gurbachan Purewal, who was already in the US, sponsored his nephew. With limited English skills and few resources, he struggled in the early years working on local farms. In 1955, he returned to India to marry Harbhajan Kaur and to sponsor his brother, Udham, to join him in the US. Both brothers worked as migrant farm workers in Colusa, Mendota, Wooodland, and Yuba City before purchasing their first 40 acre grape farm in Lodi, California. Their wives joined them in the US in 1959 and 1962. They sold their farm in Lodi to settle in the Yuba City area to join the growing Punjabi community. They purchased their first plot of land in 1957 and became successful peach farmers. Their most important contribution to the Punjabi community was their donation of land in 1967 to build Yuba City’s Sikh Temple. Both brothers played active roles in the temple leadership throughout their lives.
Punjabi American Heritage Society, Becoming American: The Story of Pioneer Punjabis and South Asians Donor Book (Yuba City, CA, 2012), 32.