History of Patels

Patels are predominantly Gujarati and speak Gujarati language. They have deep social attachment in Gujarat and their home town and villages.
Besides Gujarat and other parts of India, Patels are spread worldwide and have settled successfully in places like living in countries like USA, Canada, UK, East, Central and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Far East, the Middle East. In fact, today you will find a Patel in almost any part of the world.

The Patel community account for 20 percent of Gujarat’s population, and is a dominating force in Saurastra and Kutch region. Majority of Patels are followers of Hinduism, a 5000 year old culture and most ancient civilization. In spite of having migrated to various parts of the world, Patels have cherished and preserved their cultural identity and rich legacy. They are proud of their ancestral values and maintained traditional rituals and customs.

So who are Patels? Word is that Patel derives from ‘ Patedar’, the record-keeper named by princely rulers to keep track of crops, ‘pat’ being a parcel of land. Evidently, their patedari now extends beyond crops and across countries and continents. They are highly visible and have earned more than just pat. They are from India, originally from the state of Gujarat. Under India’s old caste system, the Patels were of the Vaishya, or merchant caste. As merchant caste members, they were literally born to sell.

Patel is a popular last name and people of different caste share the surname. There are Patels from major cities such as Mehsana, Ahemedabad and Surat. Rajput, Gujjar and Khwaja Patels are found mainly in the district of Baroda. Cutchi Leva Patels whose origins are mainly from the districts of Kutch and Charotar Patidar Patels hail from prosperous agricultural District of Kheda in Gujarat. Matiya Patidar Patels are located in Navsari and Bardoli Talukas, and other parts of India such as Surat, Indore, Vadodara, Ahmedabad. The Koli patels and the Dhodia Patels of South Gujarat also use Patel as their last name. The Patel surname is also found among Parsis , Brahmin and Gujarati Muslims, mainly from Bharuch, Surat, Kutch and Mumbai.

Two groups in Gujarat make up the Patidar Patel community. The Leva Patels are said to be the descendents of Lava, son of Lord Rama ( or just residents of Lava Kingdom ) and the Kadva Patels who are said to be descendents of Kusha, son of Lord Rama (or just residents of Kusha kingdom.) Major population of these two groups belong to Mehsana and Kheda District in North Gujarat.

The Leva Patels and Kadva Patels are known for their entrepreneurial skills in business and agriculture having a strong hold in Gujarat and have made a name for themselves around the world. There are religious and ideological differences between various groups of Patels. They have their own social samaj ( gatherings ) and mandirs at various locations where they reside. The Patel community followed an age-old tradition of marrying within their ‘ GOL or circle, but with changes in economic status, global influence, literacy and education, changes are now taking place and Patels are increasingly marrying outside the Goals.

Around AD 1000, the king of Afghanistan attacked and conquered Punjab. He and his soldiers committed great atrocities on the people of Punjab. The Hindus were forcefully converted to the Islam religion. They kidnapped and raped many of our women which forced them to commit suicide. Some of the women were converted to Islam and some soldiers married them in their traditional Islam style. To escape from the atrocities of the Afghan king and his soldiers and to save the women, our forefathers left Punjab. They were the KANBIS from Leava and KARAD villages of the GUJARANWALA district (presently in Pakistan).

These KANBI people came to MARVAD with their belongings on their bullock carts. At that time, Marvad was ruled by PARMAR kings and the fame of Rajah Bhoj was widely known. This was the reason our forefathers were attracted to that region. Marvad at that time was very densely populated and it was not possible to acquire enough land. So after staying for a short period in Marvad, they left for Kheda District of khambhat on hearing that there was plenty of uncultivated land available and this brought them to Gujarat. At this time the SOLANKIS were ruling GUJARAT. At a request to the SOLANKI king,the uncultivated land in the Taluka of PATLAD was granted to our forefathers. Land equivalent to about one GAM (village) was given to each family and the Kanbi people settled on this land. The Kanbis being hard workers managed to cultivate the land with great benefits. It was then decided that a twelfth portion of the crop would be given to the King in return for the land. But the cost of collecting this twelfth part from each farmer was very high so the king drew up an agreement and appointed a headman for each village. These headmen controlled the farmers and collected crops from them for the king. The land agreement was kept in the custody of the elders in the family of the headman. The records of the kingdom and of the crops were kept on the PAT (record or log book) and the person who entered and kept these records was known as "PATLIKH"
Patlikh was shortened to PATAL and then became PATEL.

The people that came from the village Leava became known as LEAVA (LEVA) KANBI and those that came from the village KARAD became KARADVA KANBI. The Karadva was shortened to KADVA KANBI. The Kadva Kanbi settled in the Northern part of Gujarat and the Leava Kanbi settled around Khambhat. The people who settled in Gujarat were very industrious and intelligent and became farmers and in a short period of time, Gujarat started to prosper.
As time went by, the kings and the kingdoms changed and so did the portions of the crops given to the kings. Agriculture was the main source of income of the kingdoms and they were sustained by the income from the farms. So the payments were increased to one sixth part of all crops cultivated.
Later Khambat region became the kingdom of the Mauryavansi and the crop collected from the farmers was different each year. It was high at times and low at the other times and was dictated as per the need of the kingdom and hence this part of the kingdom became known as CHAROTAR (from Chad climb up and Utar - climb down.) Charotar is the home of Leva Kanbi and Charotar Patidar Patels have their roots from this very prosperous agricultural region of Gujarat.

Between A.D. 1300 -1400, the king of Delhi Allaudin Khilji and his soldiers captured this part of Gujarat and ended the rule of Hindu kings. Allaudin Khilji told his SUBAS (clerks) that the strength of the farmers was in their wealth and so squeeze as much wealth as possible from the farmers without making them completely destitute. Leave only enough for the farmers to sow for the following year's crops. Fifty percent of the crops were collected in payment from each farmer leaving them extremely poor. Allaudin Khilji ruled Gujarat for 15 to 20 years.
Mohammed Bagdo then became the next ruler of Gujarat and took a third of all crops and outlawed any stealing. To improve farming, he chose the best farmer from each village and handed those farmers the land. In return he asked the chosen farmers to improve the farming, provide security for that village and make the village prosperous and pay the kingdom on fixed cash base (BANDHI AVAK). This way the tradition of giving part of the crop to the kingdom was abolished and a permanent propriety of the land was granted. Whoever had the propriety of the land were called PATEDAR which changed to KANBI PATIDAR and then became PATEL This way once again the PATEL PATIDAR became the owners of each village. From then on the Patel Patidar have maintained themselves as Patidar and have cultivated land by hiring farm labour. Thus the villages of Gujarat started to prosper once again.

Around A.D. 1600 Akbar conquered Gujarat. Akbar had the land measured by the "TODARMAL" and established the "VINDHOTI" system (land tax). This is today's "MAYSHUL" system.
When the Kanbis first came to Kheda from one of the first villages to be established in the Petlad taluka, Bhadran taluka and others were SAUJITRA, NAAR BHADRAN, KARAMSAD, VIRSAD, DHARMAJ, etc. They slowly became over populated and this brought shortage of houses and agricultural land. In the beginning each family had about 5000 "VIGA" land but when that land was passed on to the successive generations, the share to each family became smaller and smaller which in turn made the families poorer.

Between A.D. 1820 and 1830 some of the poor Patidar families decided to move towards SOUTH GUJARAT and were joined by Leava Patidars from other densely populated villages. They settled around SURAT. The surrounding areas of Surat were dense forests which the Leava Patidars cleared and cultivated the land. Houses were built from the timber of the same jungles and then villages were established.

In the beginning there was a link between the Patidars of the Kheda district and that of the Surat district but as transportation was difficult, the link started to weaken. The main means of transport at that time were bullock carts, horses and camels. It took 10 to 12 days to travel between Charotar and Surat. (The railway first came to India in 1860 and the first rail route was between Bombay and Thane.) Relatives from Surat and Charotar visited each other but the contact gradually decreased over the generations and in the end all links were cut off. Right from the beginning, marriages between the Patidar of Surat and that of Charotar had ceased as this could take over 20 to 25 days of travel.

Between 50 and 60 villages were established by the Patidars who came to Surat and as the population of this group was small, they established between 50 to 60 houses in each village. They built big houses as there was plenty of land. The "KHACHO" (empty land at the back of the house) known as "VAADO", in Surat, were big and so each house had their own well for water. They also had stables built with their houses for the cattle and had an "UKARDO" for the cattle manure. They also kept a "KHARI" (plain clear space) in the "vaado" for bringing in the crops. All these facilities were incorporated in each house. In Charotar, they had faced the difficulties of not having all these conveniences. The Kanbi Patidar were hard workers and so in a short time started to live comfortably and happily.

The surname is popular and denotes a particular landowning status. People of different castes occasionally share the surname. The Patels mainly belong to the various Patidar sub-castes. Two main groups of Patels in Gujarat make up the Patidar community including: 1. Leuva Patidar and 2. Kadava Patidar The Kadva Patidar sub-caste is found most in districts of the saurashtra region like Rajkot, Junagadh, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar also Mahesana. Kadva Patel are well know for their business acumen these days and dominate major industries in Gujarat while the Leuva Patidar sub-caste are mainly found in the Charotar Region (which is also known as Charotar Leuva Patidars) (Kheda, Anand), Kanam (Vadodara, Bharuch, Panchmahal), South Gujarat and Saurastra region. A few Jats also known as Patels from Haryana state and areas near erstwhile Delhi also fled to states of North Gujarat's Mehsana and Gandhinagar district during the Moghul emperors' rule to avoid forced religion conversions by then extremist Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. During the Moghul era Patels were trusted heads of the villages and Moghul as well as British also relied on Patels to carry out administration in any particular village. Pate is derived from the word "Pattalikh" meaning certain portion of land "patta" (A unit of Land) and named after the head of the village "likh" meaning "named". Amin surname bearers are also known as Patels. Saurastra Leuva Patels in the Saurastra region district have specific surnames;Abhangi,Babaria,Busa,Pambhar,Limbasiya, Kanani, Kunjadiya, Dobaria, Keraliya, Radadia, Gajera, Sutaria, Sojitra and so on from their original village names (from the Kheda, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, and Saurastra regions). In South Gujarat, nearly 90% of the members of the Koli and Kanbi Patidar sub-castes bear 'Patel' as their last name. The Patels outnumber all other Gujaratis in the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The surname 'Patel' is also used by Kolis in other regions of Gujarat. Besides Kolis and Kanbis, Dhodia Patidars of South Gujarat also use Patel as their last name. The surname can also occasionally be found amongst Parsis, Muslims, and Sidhra-Rudhra Brahmins. Patidars of Rajasthan (south and south-east rajasthan) and Madhya-Pradesh mainly use 'Patidar' itself as surname. The Patidars of these two states are also divided into two groups, Leuva and Kadava. It is also the surname of many of the Gujarati Muslim Vora Patel community.

It should be noted that other Gujaratis who migrated out of what is now the state of Gujarat during the British Raj to British East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) would sometimes adopt the surname 'Patel' and this surname was then subsequently passed onto their descendants (who now mainly reside outside Kenya and Uganda). Also, during the British Raj, some of 'Patels' that migrated to British East Africa and the Union of South Africa (South Africa) adopted different surnames, usually the name of their village (e.g. 'Dandikar'), their trade (e.g. 'Contractor'), or even their grandfather;s name and subsequently these surnames have been passed down to their descendants.

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