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By late Ramanbhai Prema.

This brief history of MATIYA PATIDAR SAMAJ was prepared by Shri Ramanbhai Premabhai (Shiker) of Bombay and his family. Information sources include books kept by the "BAROTHS" and the "VAHIVANCHAS", books bought from the DARGA of PIRANNA IMMAMSHAH in March 1975, notes collected by Late Shri Premanand Paragji Shyam and the research done by Shri Kuvedibhai Vithalbhai Metha of Malad, Bombay on the Patidars of India. The history is by no means complete and may also be inaccurate in places. This translation from the Gujarati version was prepared by Mr. Chandrakant Dahyabhai Patel (Sisodra) of Auckland, New Zealand.
It is concluded from the books kept by the "BAROTHS" and the "VAHIVANCHAS" that the PATIDAR are originally from PUNJAB. From Punjab they moved to MARVAD and then to GUJARAT.

Around AD 1000, the Badhshah 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. Our forefathers left Punjab to escape from the atrocities of the Afghan king and his soldiers and to save the women. The people who left Punjab were KANBI from Leava and KARAD villages of the GUJARANWALA district (presently in Pakistan). Even today there is a group of people of the KANBI caste in the villages of Punjab.

These KANBI people left Punjab for MARVAD with what little belongings they could fit 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. At that time Marvad was very densely populated and it was not possible to acquire enough land. After staying for a short period in Marvad, they left for Khambhat (Kheda District) on hearing that there was uncultivated land available and this brought them to Gujarat. At this time the SOLANKIS were ruling GUJARAT. The land in the Taluka of PATLAD which was uncultivated was granted to us when our forefathers made a re- quest for it to the SOLANKI king. Land equivalent to about one GAM (village) was granted 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 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 agreement of the land 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 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. The main industry and income of the kingdoms was agriculture and the kingdoms were sustained on the income from the farms and so the payments were increased to one sixth part of all crops cultivated.

Then Khambat became the kingdom of the Mauryavansi and the crops 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).

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 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 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 PATIDAR. 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.
Between 1840 and 1850, some Leava Patidar thought of going on a pilgrimage to KASHI to see KASHI VISHVANATH, so they started on their journey by bullock carts. There was a group of about 75 to 100 people. On the way they camped at various villages. After four to five weeks they reached a village called PIRANA near Ahmadabad. In Pirana there was a pious man called IMAMSHAH. Imamshah heard of this group of pilgrims and went to meet them. He invited them to dine with him that night. lmamshah himself was a vegetarian and so he always offered vegetarian food to all visitors who came to his village, be they Hindus or Muslims. They talked till late in the night. Then Imamshah asked, if he could give the "darshan" of Kashi Visvanath here, would the group go back. Some people from the group agreed though others objected to this idea. The group that did not agree continued theirjourney to Kashi. The others had the "darshan" of Kashi Vishvanath at Pirana as shown by Imamshah and returned to their villages. The other group, after completing the entire pilgrimage, returned about one year later.

Imamshah had told this group that he did not want to convert anybody to the Islam religion. He said that they should worship their own Gods and Goddesses. He said that whoever has a pure and clean mind and heart does not have to go on any pilgrimage and that whenever a devotee wishes to see his God, God will himself come to him. He said that they all should follow their Hindu traditions and be Hindus in every aspect of their life. This group then accepted Imamshah as their "GURU" (teacher) and so they became PIRANAPANTHI (Panth means path and hence followers of Pirana). Later the Piranapanthis started to worship the PIR of Pirana Imamshah (Pir means the holy grave of a pious person) and also worshipped the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. In this way these Leava Patidar Piranapanthis started a dual religious practice. (It is estimated that 90 % of this Panth is now forgotten and once the older generation passes away, about 1% of the Panth will remain and soon after that will be completely forgotten).

The "PANCH" (group of 5 people of a village as chosen by the people of the village) of the Leava Patidar who were not Piranapanthi got furious at this dual religious practice. The 'panch" from 50 to 60 villages of the Surat district gathered many times to decide what to do about it. They ruled that those Leava Patidar who were the followers of the Pir should renounce the Pir panth and be Hindus and only worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Whoever disobeyed this ruling would be made "NYATBARH" (outcast) and all relations with that person would be cut off. After this ruling the PANCHAYAT dispersed. The Piranapanthi saw the ruling as a threat and so went on a "MAT" (revolt). They told the "panchayat" that they would reverse the ruling and make them (the panchayat) "nyatbarh" and they continued their dual religious practice. The "panchayat" from both sides than ruled that from then on there would not be any marriages between the two groups nor would there be any other social relations with each other such as dining together. From then onwards the Patidars who had gone on the "mat" became known as Leava Matiya Patidar and later became known as Matiya Patidar. The Matiya Patidar that broke away from the Leava Patidar were also joined by their families and relatives and started their own separate society. Even today there are some villages of Matiya Patidar, in which there are houses of Leava Patidar.

Another reason for parting from the Leava Patidar was that many people were tired of following the extreme traditions of the Leava Patidar Samaj. The parting gave them an opportunity to change the traditions to their own view of life.
One of the improvements was the abolishing of "DAHAIJ" or "DAIYAJA" (dowry) system because the poorer Leava Patidars found it extremely difficult to get their daughters married. At times, when they could not come up with the dowry, the girls remained spinsters and had to spend the rest of their life with their brothers and sisters-in-law (bhabhi).

Thus the dowry system was totally abolished and a ruling was passed which said that nobody should give any dowry nor should anybody receive any.
The second improvement was that any women who were widowed or divorced were allowed to remarry and enjoy family life as this was considered their natural right. Many other improvements were also made which are not listed here.

In 1930, these improvements were reinforced when Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (of Karamsad) came to Bamni Gam. All the Matiya Patidars gathered for three days and redrafted the improvements. After that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel declared that:

  • The bride's father should not give anything to the groom's father and the groom's father should not give anything to the bride's father.
  • At the time of engagement, the "VYAVAHAR" should be negligible - one should give as per his capacity which the other party should accept without any comments and in such a way that nobody would know what and how much was given.
  • At the time of the wedding, the bride's father should not give anything to the groom's father. Nobody should ask for anything and if anything was offered, it should not be accepted, and if nothing is given, then there should not be objection to that (ie. the wedding should be a "DHARMA DHARMI LAGNA").
  • As good luck and best wishes the grooms father should give the bride four "KANKAN" (gold bangles). If he wants to then the grooms father is allowed to give an "ACHODO" (gold necklace) and earrings. The bride should accept this with love.
  • The bride's father is allowed to give whatever clothing he wishes to his daughter for the wedding. What is given to the bride by her father is between themselves and nobody from her in-laws' side has the right to know this (this is known as "KANKU NEY KANYA" tradition). Similarly at the time of "MOSAADOO" and "GEEADOO", the Matiya Patidar have simple ceremonies and a bare minimum is exchanged.
    At present the system of dowry does not exist amongst the Matiya Patidar Samaj even though it is wide spread all over India.

(Since 1960s the Matiya Patidar who are overseas have started to change this by giving greater amounts at the time of weddings and reverting back to the older traditions from which we had originally escaped by breaking away from the Leava Patidar. Hopefully these new introductions will be short lived.)

Today the Matiya Patidars are located in the Navsari taluka and the Bardoli taluka. There are over one hundred families in Bombay and few other families in other parts of India such as Surat, Indore, Vadodara, Ahmadabad, Bhavnagar, Hydrabad, Banglore, etc. Overseas the Matiya Patidars are practically all over the world but the main settlements are in New Zealand, England, United States of America, Canada, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Fiji and recently in Australia.