Labana

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Sikhism does not endorse caste based distinctions in society that lead to unequal opportunities for some people. In fact, Sikhism completely rejects class or race based distinctions between humans, that leads us to make an inequitable society. Such distinctions have surfaced only due to ill interests of certain section of people, who, on the pretext of making a society more manageable through these classifications, eventually paved the way to an unequal grouping within the human race. This article is just for information purpose and to share how people from different castes came into the Sikh fold. So, please treat this article as a source of general information about this issue and kindly do not amend this article to highlight this important underlying Sikh principle. If you have any comments, please discuss them appropriately here

Castes & Tribes
Labana
Classification Tribal Community, Transportation/Carriers turned Agriculturists
Subdivisions
Significant populations in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Pakistan & Other parts
Languages Lubanki (Dialect), Punjabi, Hindi and many others
Religions Sikhism, Hinduism & Islam
Labana People

Lobanas (Also pronounces as Lubana, Labana, Luvana, Lubhana) is a tribe that lives in and around Indian subcontinent. Basically, Labana is Trader/Merchant/Transportation/Carrier community engaged in Maritime trade and Land Trade which includes Trading and transportation of Goods like Salt, Grains, Shawls etc. In Punjab Region, during socio-economic reforms, Labanas overwhelmingly became agriculturists. Labanas have their own dialect called "Lubanki" which is said to be mixture of Marwari, Saraiki, Gujarati, and Marathi. The Labanas of Punjab and Haryana are mostly Sikhs and speak mainly Punjabi or Hindi. They are also called lohana (in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Lavana is another variation often heard.

According to 1881 Census, the total population of Labanas in punjab region was 48489 out of them 69% were Hindus, 25% were Sikhs and 3% were Muslims, the population was rose to 56316 in 1921 in which Sikh population rose to 77%, Hindu labanas to 15% and muslim lobanas to 7%[1]. In this era, maximum percentage of Hindu labanas were converted to Sikhs, under Singh Sabha Lehar. In Punjab, Labanas started leaving merchant work and shifted to agriculture profession which turns them to landholding community.

Notable Baba Makhan Shah Lobana was a Merchant Marine who traveled around India, Africa and Portugal for Salt Trade.

Historical Background

Etymology

There are two prevalent theories about etymology of the word:

  1. The most acceptable etymology about the origin of the word, 'Labana' is that it has originated from the Sanskrit language word Lavanik (Sanskrit:लावणिक) which means Dealer/Trader of Salt. Lavanik is made from two sanskrit word Lavan(लवण) and Vanij(वणिज). One more etymology exist is that Lobana is originated from word Ladhana which means "To Load".[2][3]
  2. One more accepted etymology is Lobana also means who wear Iron Dress, i.e. dress of Military person, derived from Loh & Bana. They mentioned Lobana were Military persons who served in Guru's army.[4][5]

Origin

Main article: Origin Of Labanas

Lobanas are residing in and around India from ancient times. People of Labanas were basically Rajputs.[6][7], offshot of Ikshwakus of Ramayana. [8]. In 1891 Census, they were categorized under Rajputs and are descendents of Suryavanshi and Chandarvanshi Kashatriyas.

  • In Ludhiana and Jhang districts, the Lobanas claimed to be the descendants of Chauhan Rajputs of Jaipur and Jodhpur. [9]
  • In Gujarat district, they claimed to be Raghu vanshi Rajputs. [10]
  • The Lobanas of Kangra and Hoshiarpur districts claimed their origin from the Gaur Brahmins of Pilibhit. A good number of them traced their origin from Gaur Brahmins who came to the Panjab from Ranthambore in Aurangzeb's time. [11] [12]

Lobana are also catgeorize under nomadic people called banjaras who have five classes: Turkia Banjara, Baid Banjara, Lobana Banjara, Mukrei Banjara and Bahiroop Banjara

It appears to be more appropriate to regard the Lobanas as a sub-division of the great Banjara tribe, forming one of their principal sub-castes. According to Para Singh Tanda Of Laban Sewak Jan 2008, Labanas were once part of the Rajputs (a warrior caste), he attributes the name laban to use of iron (loh) in the armor they wore. Some people from among these warriors started trading to earn their livelyhood in times of peace with the result that the name altered to Vanzaras (trade/transport). It is said that the Lobanas are of Turkish origin. They travelled from Turkey toward India and that is why they are also called "Banjaras" ("travellers") because during travel they had to set up some businesses along their way. The Lobanas were the great salt-carrying and salt-trading community. They were occasionally called Banjaras. Locally, they were known by different names in parts of the Panjab. In Ambala district, for example, on account of their versatility in adopting different vocations, the lobanas were called "Bahrupias".

People & Professional Background

  • Originally, By Profession, Labanas were Tranporters and Carriers who transports commodities like Grains, Jaggery, Salt, Spices etc. through land and water [13][14].
  • Lobanas also worked as transporters for the armies who were in action and carries food stuff for them to front lines using Oxen or Bulls(ਟਘਾ(Tagha)) as pack animals or to pull their wagons laden with the supplies neccesary to keep an army on the move. According to Travernier's "Travels of India", wrote that an ox or bull can carry weight of around 300 to 500 pounds. Lobanas travel in form of caravan(Kaafila) of 10,000 to 12,000 thagaas in which they took rice, wheat, salt, etc. The Sardar of a kaafila (caravan) was known as a Naik (also a modern term of rank in the Indian army). In the past the Naiks would wear a garland of diamonds and pearls around there neck. They were fast walkers too because of dhagaas. They use to go through Deserts and deep forests and were more probable to attack by robbers and pirates, so Naik have security arrangements and managing of caravans. They first keep their items, then Women and child(ui along with them) and then tie up animals to stay which makes the whole caravan a Fort. They also carry dogs with them. They had also mans with weapons for securty purposes. Gulcharan Singh also claims that both Tipu Sultan and the Duke of Wellington were also labanas. The bodies of lobanas were fit and they were tall as they were fighters later they travel a lot.
  • Lobanas also worked as intelligence or spies for Kings as had to travel a lot for trade so they learned a lot about geographical areas and the needs of the people in those areas, so for demand study of their their people.
  • The Ladies of Lobanas were said to be beautiful and fair in colour. They were bold to as there husbands use to go out for trade so they control all activities household and were not like old women which use to live in purdah etc. they were not fearful. J.H Huttel in book the Trioe & Caste wrote that the ladies of lobana community were famous for beauty & domestic freedom and also put beautiful clothes.
  • In Marinetime Transportation and Trade, "The lobanas took products from all over India to the harbors of Surat(Gujrat, India) to be sent to ports scattered around the world on ships that were often owned by Lobanas. Makhan Shah Labana was the owner/master of many ships and trade around India, Africa and Portugal. [15]
  • Their village is called Tanda, which is word of Lubanki Dielect(Danda) which means the Halt or Stopping place of Caravan. In Kangra, there were four halt station which are developed as Village to towns. When british annexed india, they stopped moving jobs and became settlers and resided in villages, this lead to Socio-Economic changes in them.
  • In the late eighteenth century some of the Lobanas followed pastoral pursuits. Under the Sikh rule, the Lobanas were entering the agrarian hierarchy.

Labanas went outside india set in european countries and these are called Roma People

Contribution in Sikhism

Main article: Lobanas (During guru's period)

Lobana Sikhs are mostly descended from Hindu Labanas and people of this community is well known due to Sikhism. Guru Nanak met many Lobana Traders during his journey and guided the path of truth. In an account of Bhai Bala Janamsakhi, During North Udasi, Nanak met a trader of Salt and guided him to be lowly.[16]. Following are some famous names in Sikh History:

  • First Sikh Labana recorded in Sikh History was Bhai Mansukh, who came in contact with Guru Nanak, accepted the Sikh thought and preached it around South India and Sri Lanka region. [17][18]. Bhai Mansukh told King Shivnabh about Guru Nanak. [19]
  • During Guru Angad Dev times, Bhai Saunde Shah, with Lobana congregation, came to meet Guru Angad dev and bring many commodities on his oxen.[20]
  • During Guru Arjun Dev Time, Baba Hasna was transporter/carrier of commodities at Guru's house used in Guru Langar.
  • One of wealthy Lobana trader, Baba Makhan Shah, searched 9th Guru and bring him before Sikhs on directions of Guru Har Krishan. He also punished Dhir Mall for his act against Guru Tegh Bahadur.
  • Lakhi Shah is among name in history who burn his house in 1675 to perform last rights of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.[21].
  • During Guru Gobind Singh times, Many Lobana Sikhs joined Guru Gobind SIngh's army. Makhan Shah's son Bhai Javand Singh was killed in Chamkaur in 1705[22]. Son of Lakhi Shah, Bhai Hem Singh Khalsa, was martyed in fight of Anandpur in 1704. Lobanas also helped in purchasing armours[23]
  • Other Lobanas include Baba Takhat Mal, Baba Dasa Lobana, Bhai Kuram & many more Lobanas name are include in sikh history.

After Guru's period

  • When Banda Bahadur need soldiers then many lobana participated in his army. Kesar Singh Chibber in Banwalinama wrote,

Saath Lubanya, behroopiya sikhan aad kharota,
maal balad ladey hoyae, maarag chaley jaaya,
chela bhej nayak sad mangaya.

  • As per Prachin Panth Parkash, When Banda Singh Bahadur needs money then a Caravan of Labanas helped them:

ਨਹੀਂ ਖਰਚ ਅਬ ਹਮਰੇ ਪਾਸ ।
ਆਵੇ ਖਰਚ ਯੋ ਕਰੀ ਅਰਦਾਸ ।
ਆਏ ਲੁਬਾਣੇ ਲਗ ਗਈ ਲਾਰ।
ਦਯੋ ਦਸਵੰਧ ਉਨ ਕਈ ਹਜ਼ਾਰ ।
ਸੋਊ ਬੰਦੇ ਆਈ ਅਗੇ ਧਰਯੋ ।
ਕਰੇ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਬੰਦੇ ਹੇਠ ਫ਼ਰਯੋ ।

During the Misl period, the Lobanas joined the services of various Misldars. They mostly served in the Bhangi, Ramgarhia, Shaheed and Ahluwalia Misl. Some of them were in the ruling class of the Ahluwalia Misl. During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lobanas were recruited into the Khalsa Army. They proved to be good soldiers. Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave lands of Sahadra Pargana, Gujranwala and Multan to Lobana people for their outstanding contributions.

During British Rule

Lobanas also joined in english forces, then there was a time when jameen kharidan shuru hoya the labanas purchases land in Ambala, Hoshiarpur, Jalnadhar, Ludhiana, ferozpur, ahore, Amritsar, gurdaspur so they have equal status as jatts.(By piara Singh Tanda)

During the eighteenth century the Lobanas began to follow a settled way of life. There are many instances regarding their settlement as cultivators by the Sikh rulers to extend cultivation. The Lobanas of Lower Indus, Gujranwala and Jhang, for instance, settled as cultivators during the Sikh rule. In Kangra district, the Lobanas ascribed their settlement by Raja Dharam Chand and Langrapal. In the early nineteenth century, the Lobanas had established their own important villages. For instance in Gujrat district, they had three villages named Bazurgwal, Khori Dunna Singh and Tanda. Tanda was a well-known Lobana settlement. It was situated on the land of Moth-sa-duddin which was a part of chhachhan TAPPA.

Wherever the Lobanas settled they mainly named their villages as Tandas. Tanda in Lobanki dialect means a travelling body or gang. In Kangra district the Lobanas had four hamlets each called Tanda. In this way the Lobanas replaced their nomadic and pastoral life by settled way of life. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Lobanas at some places owned not only parts of villages, but also entire villages and even groups of villages. They were chiefly found in the Panjab during the Sikh rule.

Upliftment of Labana Community

Originally, the Lobanas were transporters and carriers. They supplied grains and other things of necessity in different parts of country. They had their own pack of animals. The trade was conducted in the shape of caravans and was responsible for security particularly in the dangerous tracts like forests and deserts. It was his duty to arrange fodder and make other administrative arrangements. He lived like a prince and wore a chain of pearls hanging from the neck.

Under the Sikh rule, majority of the Labanas continued their former occupations on traditional pattern. Bulk of them earned livelihood as professional carriers and only some of them as traders. Cattle-trade was also prevalent among them. In the business management, they could not compete with the Khatris and Aroras. Their position was similar to few other carrying and trading communities like Bhabras, Prachas and Khojas. Like the other trading communities the Lobanas also harvested profits from the expansion of trade. Thus their financial position gradually improved. The improvement in their economic condition paved the way for upward social mobility among the Lobanas.

In the late eighteenth century some of the Lobanas followed pastoral pursuits. Under the Sikh rule, the Lobanas were entering the agrarian hierarchy. This process was accelerated by the agrarian policy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to extend cultivation. The general policy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh towards the agrarian classes was guided by the security and development of revenues. The grants of waste land were given to new cultivators. Among other factors this gave an opportunity to the Lobanas to become agriculturists. For example, the Lobanas of Lower Indus settled as agriculturists during the period of Diwan Sawan Mal. Similarly, the Lobanas of Gujranwala and Jhang districts entered the agrarian hierarchy when the state repaired and dug the perennial an inundation canals. The land was given to them by Maharaja Ranjit Singh at nominal rent. They acquired proprietorship of the waste land cultivated by them. Thus, the Lobanas became peasant-proprietorship in some districts of the Panjab towards the end of the Sikh rule. Considering the premium attached to the possession of land in a predominantly agrarian society, this may be traced as signifying upward social mobility.

In retrospect, we see that the Lobanas became a well-known community in the Panjab towards the end of the Sikh rule. Their financial position gradually improved under the Sikh rule. A good number of the Lobanas followed pastoral occupation. They began to enter in the agrarian hierarchy by making the best use of facilities provided by the state. But majority of the Lobanas still continued with their traditional occupations.

Clans In Lobanas

Main article: Lobana Clans


Ghotra( Or Ajrawat Or Lakhman), Multani, Labana, Sujlana, are main clans mostly found and well known.

Other Clans are Badwalie, Belia, Bhagtaun, Bhonie, Dahgre, Danie, Dara Shah, Datla, Dhandsi, Dotal, Fatra, Ghare, Gojalia, Gujars, Jullon, jTatra, Kankanya, Kharrie, Khera, Khasarya, Kulwana, Lahoriae, Lavana, Lohana, Lulia, Makhan Shahi, Maniani, Mathaun , mathaunie, Mochie, Nanaut, Narowal, Padurgi, Palsiya, Parwal, Pelia, TAdra, Wamial, Wamowal

GEOGRAPHY

Country:India

Continent:Asia

Region:South Asia

Population in India:355,000

Largest States on file:

Punjab (283,000), Haryana (16,000), Rajasthan (11,000), Jammu and Kashmir (10,000), Uttar Pradesh (10,000), Delhi (8,000), Maharashtra (3,600), Uttaranachal (3,300), Chandigarh (2,200), Madhya Pradesh (1,900),

With Jatts

The Labana in the Punjab are equal to Jats in social standing and are a Landholding caste here. According to British records 33% of them were Kesh Dhari Sikhs and were found primarily in the Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot areas. The Labanas along with the Khatri, Arora, Churah, Suneaar and Tarkhans saw the highest conversions into Sikhism during the 1881-1891.

Source = Transformation of the Sikh Society (Ethene K. Marenco) p. 120

The Jat and Lobana castes of Sikhs possess in a high degree in millitary support.
Source = Studies on military transport By George Armand Furse P. 215

LANGUAGE

Primary Language: Panjabi, Eastern (318,000 Speakers)

Secondary Languages:

Hindi (4,500), Harauti (20), Mewari (10), Pahari-Potwari: Punchhi (Unknown), Haryanvi: Bagdi (Unknown)

Dialect - Lubanki

Lobanas Personalities

Lobana Villages

AMRITSAR DISTRICT : Doburji, Pandori and Verka

GUJRANWALA DISTRICT : Chakian, Daliyanwalik, Dholan, Garala, Gunaur, Kajikot, Kurikot, Mandiran, Manjpur, Mirzapur, Garala, Nangal Dunna singh and Wando.

GUJRAT DISTRICT : Hatka, Bazurgwal, Baramla, Bhakhrewali, Buddhan, 28 Chak, Gujgrain, Khori Dunna Singh, Mehsam, Peroshah, Qila Sura Singh, Quankh, Surkhpur and Tanda.

GURDASPUR DISTRICT : Balarhwal, Behrampur, Bheni Paswal, Bhulechak, Dhianpur, Chak Shreef, Dhupsari, Galrhi, Ghot Phokhar, Jago Chak Tanda, Jhanda Lobana, Khojkipur, Kri Afgana, Kishanpur, Kotli, Manchopra, Mari Buchian, Mari Tanda, Mehre, Mirthal Tanda, Naushehra Nalbandhan, Nawan Pind Bahadur, Nirsiha, Saidowal Khurd and Shaale.

HOSHIARPUR DISTRICT : Budhabarkt, Chuhrian, Galowal, Himatpur, Khurdan, Mahadpur, Naraingarh, Passitbet, Salohpur, Tahli, Tanda Ramsahai, Terkiana and Uchi Bassi.

JALANDHAR DISTRICT : Bhatnura, Narohi, Patial and Rajpura.

JHANG DISTRICT : Chak No. 485.

KANGRA DISTRICT : 4 Tandas

LAhORE DISTRICT : 37 Chak Pattokji, Gopal Singh Wala, Paar Sadh, Shahpur Kanjra, Innobhati Jhugian Khasrian.

LUDHIANA DISTRICT : Balbgarh, Dholanwal, Garhi Fazal, Gopalpur, Lubangarh, Mangli Tanda, Rur, Sasrali and Tanda Kishan Singh.

LAYALLPUR DISTRICT : 13 Chak, 447 Chak, 476 Chak and 444 Chak, 115 G.B., 441 G.B., 77 G.B., 32 G.B., 202 G.B., 358 G.B., 301 G.B., 84 G.B., 518 G.B.

MULTAN DISTRICT : 24 Chak, 34 Chak, 36 Chak, 45 Chak, 50 Chak, 86 Chak, 88 Chak and 90 Chak.

SARGHODHA DISTRICT : 115 Chak South, 113 Chak South, 133 Chak S.B., 135 Chak S.B., 109 Chak S.B.

SHEIKHUPURA DISTRICT : Awan, Babakwal, Bhago Dial, Bhukanpur Aar Da, Bhukanpur Paar Da, Nangal Bhuchar, Nangal Bawa, Bohar Wala Ahiya(Ahiya Khurd), Ahiya Nagar Kalan, 32 Chak, 41 Chak, 48 Chak, Dhamkian, Dinga, Fatrehan, Garangwala, Ghuchli, Hitkipur, Kharial, Lubanwala, Mangat, Manjwala, Mansa Singh Da Ahiya, Maschak, Mehmatpur, Mikhowal, Mirpur, Muradpur, Najar Purana, Niranjani, Paarda Ahiya, Pindidass, Qaji Murali, Ratniwala, Bukanwal, Saad Amba, Sarawan, Shaam Ke, Sharihpur, Sindiala, Tibba Toria, Wadda Najar, 22 Chak, 23 Chak.

SIALKOT DISTRICT : Bhagowal, Bhodi, Chhana Atalgarh, Garhi Bhura, Khokharwali, Kunanpur, Nangal Shahu, Rajja, Shana Gopalpur, Baradari.

ROPAR DISTRICT : Graangan , Khokhar, Dalla, Behrampur Bet, Rampur Phasse, Tapprian Amar Singh, SallahPur, Makkowal Chotta , Sultanpur, Lobangarh, Bikkapur, Maddoli, Gochar.

LUDHIANA DISTRICT : Chak Lohat, Sherpur, Sehjomajra, Burj Kacha, Raipur, Behlolpur, Kanpur , Chakkli, Tanda, Hambowal, Pautt,

PEHOWA DISTRICT : Fatehgarh (Pipli Plot), Vada Siana, Chota Siana, Miana, Ghula, Cheeka, Puuna, 4 Number, Shambi, Ladwa.

Other Parts

Other parts of India

Besides Punjab, these tribes are also found in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Gujarat. In these areas, they may not necessarily follow Sikhism.

Comments on Lobana Community

  • Khushwant Singh has called Lubana Sikhs: "The Salt of the earth". It is said that Lobanas are a sub-division of the larger Banjaras (Vanjara) grouping. The Lobanas have played an important role in the history of the Panjab in general, and in that of the Sikhs in particular. Many Lobanas like Makhan Shah, Lakhi Shah and Sant Prem Singh have played important roles in the history of Sikhi. The social mobility among the Lobanas under British rule is also noteworthy. Originally involved mainly with transport and trading they have overwhelmingly became agriculturists. The socio-religious resurgence in Panjab during the period of the British Raj and thereafter introduced many reforms in this community. So the study of the Lobana community helps us to understand the geveral process of socio-cultural change in the whole of Panjab.

See Also

References

  1. ^ Punjab di Lobana Biradar, Dr. Jaswant Singh
  2. ^ Glossary of Tribes and Castes in Punjab H. A Rose
  3. ^ The Quarterly Review of Historical Studies
  4. ^ last= SGPC Parkash|title=Gurmat Parkash|accessdate=October 2000|publisher=SGPC|isbn=81-7835-664-3|page=80
  5. ^ Piara Singh Tanda, Lobana Sewak
  6. ^ Dr. Jaswant Singh, Punjab Di Labana Biradri
  7. ^ Piara Singh Tanda, Lobana Sewak, Jan 2008
  8. ^ History Of The Later Harappans And Silpakara Movement, Gyan Publishing House,page=268
  9. ^ History Of The Later Harappans And Silpakara Movement, Gyan Publishing House,page=268
  10. ^ History Of The Later Harappans And Silpakara Movement, Gyan Publishing House,page=268
  11. ^ Supplement to the glossary of Indian terms, Henry Miers Elliot, page=110
  12. ^ The Indian Encyclopaedia, Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd,page-629
  13. ^ Piara Singh Tanda, Loabana Sewak(Jan 2008)
  14. ^ Dr Jaswant Singh,Punjab Di Lobana Biradri
  15. ^ Colonel Gulcharan singh
  16. ^ Sakhi 72, Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
  17. ^ Sikh Heritage
  18. ^ Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
  19. ^ Mahankosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Page 949
  20. ^ Bhai Veer Singh, Asht Gur Chamatkar, Bhag 1, Page 18
  21. ^ Puna Rakaab Gand-mein aure, Nom Guru Ka Tann jis thoo-rae, saskario thaa sikh luvaane, naaik lakhi lijj ghat aane, Panth Parkash, Giani Gian Singh, Page 1135
  22. ^ Bhai Javand SIngh, Beta Makhan Shah Da, Pota Dase Shah Da Parhpota, bane da, aulaad, bohan shah pelia gotra banjara basi taanda, pragna desh muzafrabad desh| Guru Gobind Singh Marg(Sampadak Fauja Singh), Punjab Bhasha Vibhag, Patiala 1973 Page 34
  23. ^ Muhar, Chaap Karvai Lubana, Lai aayo gur teer sujaana (Koer Singh, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, Page 145)
Social Groups

♣♣ Bania ♣♣ Chamar ♣♣ Julaha ♣♣ Khatri ♣♣ Lobana ♣♣ Saini ♣♣