Grewal/Garewal is a Jatt clan found in Punjab, India, Haryana and Punjab, Pakistan. Grewals are descendents of the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Scythian peoples. Grewals played an important historical role in Sikh history, and adopted Sikhism in 1631 AD.
Today most of the Grewals are settled in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, where they have approximately 75 villages, and number 45,336. Grewals have migrated to all corners of the globe with significant populations having settled in parts of Malaysia, Canada, the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia. Grewals have held important positions in military, civil, police services, and politics in India, England, and Canada.
Grewals have gained two gold medals at the Olympic Games: in Berlin, at the 1936 Summer Olympics, Garewal Singh won gold with the men's hockey team; in Los Angeles, at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Alexi Grewal won gold in the individual road race, becoming the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in cycling.
History and Origins
Grewals are descendents of Greh (Grewal), the son of Chandela Rajput Prince Baindsi of Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh, and Jat Roop Kanwar. Grewals, alongside other Jat clans, are descendents of Scythian tribes who migrated from Central Asia into Northern India from the middle of the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD, often referred to as the Indo-Scythian invasion.
The Chandels, like most of the Northern Indian population, trace their origin to Aryans; who invaded North–Western India around 1500 B.C. Chandels are one of the 36 royal castes of Rajputs. The Chandels ruled over Bundelkhand between the 10th and the 13th centuries AD. This state fell in the middle of rivers Yamuna and Narmada. They also had a fort at Kalinjar.
The Chandels were connected with the town of Chanderi in state of Madhya Pradesh. Chanderi was once ruled by Sispal, a hero of the Mahabharta who reigned Chanderi, and hence were called Chandel Rajputs. The story of Kahlur is that Hari Har Chand, the 17th in line to Sispal was encouraged in a dream to visit goddess Jawala Mukhi in Kangra district near Anandpur Sahib. To visit her shrine, he moved North towards Kangra along with his four sons and army, where he was well received by the Raja of Kangra. Raja Hari Har Chand paid his obeisance at Jawla Mukhi temple and started staying in the same area. This led to a feud between the two Rajas and fight broke out in which Raja Hari Har Chand and his crown–prince, was killed. His remaining three sons Bir Chand, Kabir Chand and Gambhir Chand were able to conquer the area, and the three brothers established their own kingdoms. Raja Bir Chand, the eldest, seized Jhanderi in Hoshiarpur District and by evicting the Thakur, carved out the kingdom of Kahlur (Bilaspur) for himself in 607 A.D.; Raja Kabir Chand established his rule in Kumaon and Raja Gambhir Chand established his kingdom in Chamba. Raja Bir Chand died in 730 A.D., after ruling the state for 33 years. In his eleventh generation, Raja Kahan Chand ruled the state of Bilaspur. He had two sons: Ajit Chand, Tegh Chand and Ajay Chand. Ajit Chand succeeded his father in ruling Bilaspur. Raja Ajay Chand founded the dynasty of Hindur which established the state of Nalagarh in 1156 A.D.
One of the descendants of Raja Ajit Chand, Srath (Rakh) had a son named Baindsi or Bairsi. Baindsi was a prince of the Bilaspur state, and was the first ancestor of the Grewals. Baindsi married a beautiful Jat girl named Roop Kanwar, and they had a son, named Greh (Grewal). Since Baindsi, a Rajput had married a Jat girl, his family disowned him and his son was considered to be born out of karewa (illegal marriage) and was thus considered a lower caste. According to Rajput practice, the new sub-caste became Jat, on the caste of his mother. Roop Kanwar belonged to a village named Greh, near present Anandpur Sahib. Her son spent most of his childhood in his maternal grandparents' village and therefore he was generally referred to as Greh-wala Rajkumar (Prince). They lived a happy life with Greh (Grewal) growing up into a promising youth. Grewal had two sons: Bela and Maholia. Descendants of Maholia shifted from Naiabed and spread towards Lalton and over a period, established village Badowal.
Descendants of Bela had moved southwest and had settled in village Kallrian (Kulrian) in Hissar District. The sixteenth descendant of Greh was Chaudhary Jaspal of this village. In 1447 AD, in the rainy month of Sawan (July–August), a son was born to him, named Gujjar. He was very handsome with a broad forehead, grey eyes, thick eyebrows, long and sharp nose and a very good physique. He grew up to be a strong boy who excelled himself in the fields of wrestling, kabbadi, fencing and archery. As he matured, he mastered the arts of horse-riding, swordsmanship, tent-pegging, and gained the proficiency of marksman with gun. At the age of 20-21 he gained the confidence of all his colleagues in martial arts and thus became their leader. As he became famous, more and more people joined his band and gradually, it became a formidable force under his command. He foresaw the decline of Mughal Empire and with his forces and family moved in the Northern direction, and passed by the ruins of first settlement of the Grewals at Naiabed. They had not gone far, when the axle of one of the chariots carrying the ladies broke and got detached; the efforts to repair the chariot before nightfall did not succeeded. That night was a moonless (massia) night. Chaudhary Gujjar ordered camping there itself, and that marks the beginning of village Gujjarwal. Chaudhary Gujjar sixteenth in lineage of Prince Baindsi established the Grewal estate at Gujjarwal (Ludhiana) in 1469 A.D. occupying 52,000 bighas or approximately 8,666 acres of land.
In Indian Punjab, Grewals primarily belong to the Malwa region. There are a total of 52 purely Grewal villages (meaning everyone in the village is Grewal) in Ludhiana district alone. The main villages of Grewals are located in the Ludhiana district in and around Ludhiana City, such as Threeke, Dolon Kalan, Noorwal, Ratan, Lalton, Kalan, Gujjarawal, Phallewal, Pakhowal, Qila Raipur, Sarabha, Baddowal, Sunet, Daad, Narangwal and Kadian. Grewals started living in these villages around 1469 AD.
The Grewal villages being south of the Sutlej River, came under British rule early even as Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidated the Sikh Empire all the way to Kabul. The Grewal villages were characterized by large land holdings and large estates called "Jagirdars". As a result, the Grewal villages with a high middle class prospered. They also joined the British-Indian mercenary army and fought in wars from Mesopotamia to Germany.
One of the very first Sikh Regiments in the British army that was created after the mutiny, bore the name Ludhiana Sikhs, other one being Ferozepur Sikhs. Grewals also contributed to the fight for freedom of India. Kartar Singh Sarabha from Sarabha village lead the fight and was accepted as a guru by the freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
Women's emancipation came early to the Grewals: a girl's high School was established in Gujjarwal and Qila Raipur in the late 1800s. Grewals were also the first among the Jat Sikh clans to encourage their daughters to seek higher education and seek outside employment as opposed to the traditional role of Indian women. Education became the passport for the Grewals to travel and obtain positions across the globe. Dr Gurdial Kaur Grewal and Dr Shivdev Kaur Grewal graduated from Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi early in the twentieth century.
Characteristics and Customs
As stated in Syed Ghulam Bhik Jalandhari's book of 1882, Grewals are powerful in the district Ludhiana and surrounding areas and are considered a prestigious, agriculturist and educated clan. Many important and famous people, including many poets were of the Grewal clan. Generally these people are cultured with high living standards. Many are officers, and their behavior is superior to other Jats. They are famous for keeping their promises and they consider pros and cons of each undertaking, before doing it. They are more inclined towards Army service, are of good character, and benefit for themselves.
As per the Ludhiana Gazetteer page 58-59:
- The Grewals are considered Sahu-log i.e. a superior class of Jats in North India.
- The girls of Grewal families are sought in marriages by the best families of Sardars and even by Rajas. Maharajas of princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot and Kaithal were all married at Kila Raipurat at one time or another.
- They are also very extravagant and quarrelsome, but they take to service better than any other Jats, but are not so good as cultivators.
- A widow of Grewal clan can marry her husband's younger brother (Devar) or husband's older brother (Jeth).
In the settlement report by Gordon Walker, in 1878 A.D. at page 292:
- The marriage in Grewals is irrevocable and cannot be dissolved. Grewals can marry their widowed sisters-in-laws, which differs from Rajput tradition.
- EDUCATION: The Grewal evince keen interest in education. They endeavor to avail whatever the means of education on hand. At a time when only Maktabs were in existence, and middle and high schools rare; significant number of them acquired education there and put it to best use in services and elsewhere. As the means of education improved, they grasped the chance thus offered and made rapid strides in acquiring high education as well. So their percentage in literacy and higher education is impressive.
- SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE / ENTERPRISE
- AGRICULTURE: Agriculture has been their mainstay as of others and they cannot claim to be more expert than others in it, but what has led them to improve their economic position is, that from most of the families, one or more members have gone out of the villages in search of other means of income and availing of those avenues have supplemented their family income and villages.
- INDUSTRIES. They have taken to several industries but large number of them, are in Road Transport and have shown marked progress.
- FOREIGN COUNTRIES: A good number of them are working in foreign countries and have acquitted themselves well there towards their economic advancement.
- SERVICES: What is, notable about them are the services. Whatever service they take in hand, they generally discharge their responsibility with self-effacing interest.
- PERSONALITY: Sports: They have good aptitude for sports. Some of them have excelled themselves in athletics, hockey. Brig. Dalip Singh Grewal was the sole Indian to get a position in World Olympics in High Jump category. That a Sports Festival is annually held in Kila Raipur is ample testimony of it. There are several Grewal hockey players of national fame.
- RELIGION: They are predominantly Sikh. Number of those professing other religions is very small. In religious matters, Grewals have produced great number of saints.
- LOVE FOR INDEPENDENCE: There are numerous Grewals who laid down their lives for the cause of independence.
- Jasmin Grewal of Home Outfitters
- Simi Garewal, Indian actress
- Gurmant Grewal former 3-term Member of Parliament in Canada and Deputy House Leader.
- Nina Grewal 4-term Member of Parliament in Canada. Nina and Gurmant Grewal are the first married couple to consecutively serve in the Canadian Parliament.
- Gurnam Singh Grewal of V. Narangwal served as Chief Minister of Punjab
- Gippy Grewal Singer, Actor, Producer
- Alexi Grewal Olympic Gold medal cyclist
- Dr. Iqbal S. Grewal Esteemed cancer researcher and biotechnology executive
- Garewal Singh Olympic Gold medalist
- Dr. Karam Singh Grewal Orthopedic doctor, found of the Indian Orthopaedic Association.
- Kartar Singh Sarabha An Indian freedom fighter was also a Grewal and also amongst the youngest to sacrifice for the country
- Dr. Neelam Grewal Director at Directorate of Research for Women in Agriculture. Former Dean College of Home Science, Punjab Agricultural University.
- History and study of the Jatts. B.S Dhillon. p.123
- , CH1 Origin of Grewals - Col. Prem Singh Grewal