Surjit Kaur Dhami
Surjit Kaur Dhami (born on December 27, 1940) helped contribute to her family’s successful farm business after arriving in the Yuba City area in 1966. She also enjoyed a broad circle of friends who devoted seva to Yuba City’s Gurdwara and later the Gurdwara in Live Oak, CA.
Born in a village in western Punjab (now in Pakistan), Surjit and her family were forced to relocate to India due to the 1947 partition. She was allowed to complete six years of education before getting married at age 20 to Nirmal Singh Dhami in 1960. After marriage, she moved to her in-laws’ house in the village of Kalkat. Two years later, Surjit moved from Punjab to a rural area just north of Yuba City in the United States.
Surjit with her baby, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India, 1961.
Dhami women. Left to right_ Surjit Kaur Dhami, Mohinder Kaur, Daljit Kaur, Darshan Kaur with baby, Ranjit Singh, Live Oak, CA, 1968.
Based in the small towns of Gridley and Live Oak, CA, Surjit performed a wide variety of labor for the family farm business, including thinning, picking peaches, prunes, and walnuts, and grading peaches. She drove a tractor. She also supplemented the family income by working at the Diamond Walnut facility during the summers.
On the weekends, Surjit enjoyed performing seva at Yuba City’s Gurdwara and at the Live Oak Gurdwara. The latter is located a short distance from her home. She enjoys sewing, gardening, and cooking. She had a broad circle of friends, including Bhaktawar and Gian Kaur Bains, Harsev and Mohinderjit Kaur Thiara, Ajmer Singh and Amar Kaur Bains, Mahenga and Surjit Bhatti, Mehar and Surjit Tumber, Seva and Pritam Kaur Heir, Sadhu Singh Bains, and Kartar Kaur Heir.
Surjit feels thankful to live in America, due to the standard of living. When she left her village in Punjab, there was no electricity. She also thinks that medical care is better here. Most importantly, she believes that it was better to raise her children in the US. She also feels that she could pursue more opportunities as a woman in the US than in Punjab. Here, she learned to drive a car. There were more opportunities and responsibilities given to women in the Punjabi community here, due to necessity as the families needed labor to build their family farm businesses.
Surjit raised four children: Kulvinder Kaur Garcha, Gurjit Kaur Pundhar, Ranjit Singh Dhami, and Buljit Singh Dhami.
Photos courtesy of Surjit Dhami.
Source: Interview with Surjit Kaur Dhami by Nicole Ranganath, Live Oak, CA, September 8, 2018, with written information provided by the Dhami family.
Dhami family. Left to right: Kulwinder Garcha, Ranjit Singh Dhami (seated), Kamaljit Shahi, Tirath Singh, Surjit Kaur Dhami (standing), Nirmal Singh Dhami (husband), Chanan Kaur Dhami (seated in white), Rajinder Singh Dhami, Gurjit Kaur Pundhar, Live Oak, CA, 1969