Sacramento Valley

The five rivers of the Sacramento Valley descend from the Sierra mountains and Mount Shasta.

The five rivers of the Sacramento Valley descend from the Sierra mountains and Mount Shasta.  The Feather, Yuba, Bear, American, and Sacramento rivers flow through the Sacramento Valley on their journey to the San Francisco Bay.  Source: Relief Map of California, Oakland, CA: H.A. Sedelmeyer, 1950, David Rumsey Map Collection.

When the Punjabi pioneers first arrived in the Sacramento Valley around the turn of the twentieth century, they were struck by the similarities in topography, land, and climate with their homeland.

“On arriving in the Sacramento Valley, one could not help but be reminded of the Punjab.  Fertile fields stretched across the flat valley to the foothills lying in the distance.  Most of the jobs were agricultural and I found many Punjabis already working throughout the area.”

Puna Singh, “My Early Years in America,” Sikh Sansar, December 1972, 109-110.

In a playful short story, writer Hari Singh Everest draws an extended analogy between the geography, people, language, and culture of the Sacramento Valley and the Punjab.  The short story’s title “The Land of Five Rivers” refers not to his homeland, but to the California valley in which he lives.  He likens the Feather River to the Sutlej; Mount Shasta to the Shivaliks in the Himalayas.  Everest also observes that Yuba City, like the town of Rupar, is filled with Sikh temples and Sikh shopkeepers, professionals and schoolchildren.  Moreover, Yuba City offers Punjabi radio and TV stations, as well as courses in the Punjabi language and culture at Yuba College.  Both regions even feature a state capitol: Sacramento and Chandigarh.

“The water, like the water in the Punjab, had the same urge to run downward.  The distant hills the same charm.  The fire in Jawalamukhi and in the Lassen Volcano has the same way to burn things!”

Hari Singh Everest, “Land of Five Rivers,” Sikh Sansar, August 1972, 31.