Over 100 years ago a small group of Punjabis from British India made their way to the west coast of America in search of a better life. Many of them eventually moved to Yuba City in California, where they became successful farmers.Because of legal barriers the early settlers from India were not allowed to marry or own land in America. Some like Leela Rai’s grandfather married Mexican women and their American-born children were allowed to buy and own land.
Leela Rai is part of a dwindling Punjabi-Mexican or Punjabi-Hispanic community of Yuba City, who have incorporated elements from their Punjabi and Mexican heritage into their American lifestyle.
In this video Leela explains how her mother Mary Rai learnt to read and write Punjabi growing up in America.Mary was born in Arizona and as a young woman moved to California, where she married a Punjabi farmer and settled to raise her family in Yuba City. While Mary learnt to read and write Punjabi, Leela did not learn to read and write Punjabi.