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Religions Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam
Languages Punjabi, Lubanaki and Hindi
Country Primarily India, a significant population in Europe, UK, United States and Canada
Populated States Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.

Labana is a landholding community whose members were traditionally traders (transporters, carriers and loaders) who are now mostly agriculturists.[1] The Labanas of Punjab region are mostly Sikhs, with a small minority of Muslims and Hindus. During British colonial times, they were declared as a martial-race.

Labana is also written or pronounced as Lubana, Lobana, Lavana etc.

Etymology and Origin[edit]

Traditionally, Labana is derived from Sanskrit words, where Lun from Lavana(लवण) which means Salt and Vana from Vanij(वणिज) means Trade.[2] Lubana, Lobana or libana was doubtless the great salt-carrying and salt trading caste". Ancient Medieval The lobanas traded as a profession in the medieval period on account of being displaced after repeated aggressions in the north western India. Now basically an agriculturist community spread over North Western India.[3]

According to Sikh Magazine Gurmat Parkash (Published by SGPC), Lobana also means who wear Iron Dress, i.e. dress of Military person. They mentioned Lobana were Military persons who served in Guru's army.[4]


Labanas are an offshoot of Ikshwakus of Ramayana fame as well as Audumbaras or Damars.[5] In 1891 Census, they were categorized under Rajputs and are descendents of Suryavanshi and Chandarvanshi Kashatriyas. It is believed that Labanas are from the Suryavansh of Rama Chandra, King of Ayodhya and believed to be son of Lava.

In Ludhiana and Jhang districts, the Lobanas claimed to be the descendants of Chauhan Rajputs of Jaipur and Jodhpur.[5] In Gujarat district, they claimed to be Raghu vanshi Rajputs.[5] 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.[6][7]



Makhan Shah, A Labana use Ship Transport for trading

Originally, Labanas were traders and Carriers and were nomadic, like Banjaras, Lambadis. They use Animal-Powered transportation and move with entire families, cattle and dogs, around the country. Lakhi Shah Vanjara, famous Labana Sikh use Bullocks for Land Transportation during Mughal Rule.

Labanas were also engaged in Water Transportation. The famous Sikh is Makhan Shah, who had ships for transportation.

They were employed by various empires for transportation of War material. They served under empires of Mughals, British, Sikhs etc. Due to political disorders, it became difficult for Labanas to continue traditional occupation and began to settled around rivers. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh tenure, they entered into agriculture.[8]

The major setback to their traditional profession is introduction of Motor and railways by British, so there dependence on agriculture increased. For additional Income, they adopted military profession and served in both world wars and got lands and appreciation for their performances.

According to George Armand Furse, "The Jut and Lobana castes of Sikhs possess in a high degree the useful knowledge of the lading and care of beasts of burden".[9]

Clan System[edit]

Main article: Labana Clans

The lubanas have 11 Gotras and are mostly agricultural.[6][7] The Labana Gotra names are derived from places, profession, ritual and prominent personalities; for example, the Multani Lobanas were named for Multan city when they came to the Punjab region during Nadir Shah's invasion of India in 1739.Lubana clans or got are Ajrawat, Multani,Rath,Ghotra,Garha,Sandlas,Khasriye,Kundlas,Karsana,Patwalie,Pelia,Bhagtana,Badwal,Bawa,Lyallpurie,Maniani,Mathaun,Makhan shai,Mundar,Merawat,Lubana,Labana,Lavana.[10]


Labanki, the dialect of Labanas, is an extinct Indo-Aryan language. It is a mixture of Marwari, Saraiki, Gujarati and Marathi.[11] The dialect is extinct among Labanas of Punjab, but Rajasthani Labanas still speak the same. Among Sikhs, the famous Labanki quote Guru Ladho Re(Found the Guru) was outspoken when Makhan Shah identify the 9th successor of Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur.


Labanas profess Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. In Punjab, most of Labanas are follow Sikh religion. In Rajasthan, Gujrat and Madhya Pradesh, there are Hindu Labanas and Sikh Labanas. Muslim Labanas are in minority and are present in Pakistan.

Hindu Labanas[edit]

Hindu Labanas are mostly followers of Shiva and Shakti. According to chronicle, Labanas were son of King Lava, who was son of Rama. So they call themselves Suryavansha.[12] All clans in Hindu Labanas have their Ishtdev and Kuldevi.

Folk Religion[edit]

Traditionally, Labanas believes in Sati and Shaheeds.[13] They also believe in Pipal, Cow and Gugga Worship. Sati-sthan(Temple), also called Amma Sati, is a building raised outside village, where milk given by cattle is dedicated to her. Other castes are not allowed to do the same. Shaheed worship, also called Martyr worship is prevalent among Labanas where a Samadhi is raised in memory of those labanas who sacrificed their life for good cause.

In Punjabi Labanas, these form of folk worshiping is getting decreased with influence of Sikhism.

Sikh Labanas[edit]

Main article: Labana Sikh

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.[14] 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.[15][16] Bhai Mansukh told King Shivnabh about Guru Nanak.[17] After that many Labanas turn Sikhs and served Sikh Gurus, among those were famous Nadu Shah lubana, Saunde Shah, Takhat Mal, Kuram etc.

Makhan Shah, a great merchant of the Labana tribe, is known for identification of Guru Teg Bahadur as the successor of Guru Harkrishan. Makhan Shah was very helpful to Guru Teg Bahadur during his pontificate. The Labanas participated in battles fought by the tenth Guru and in Sikhdom

According to British[18] records 33% of the Labana were baptised Sikhs and were found primarily in the Lahore, Gujranwala, and Sialkot areas. The Labanas (along with many other groups) saw the highest conversions into Sikhism during 1881–1891.[19]


In 1881, population of labanas 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%.[20] 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 people[edit]

Main article: List of Labanas

There are many notable names of Labanas in Sikh History, Regional History and who outperformed in various occupation. Some notable names are hereunder:

Makhan Shah Labana (Famous Sikh Devotee), Sukhwinder Singh Ghotra (Bollywood Singer), Bibi Jagir Kaur (Politician), Balwinder Singh Fiddu(Arjuna Awardee Kabaddi Player), Sant Baba Prem Singh Ji (Social Worker), Jathedar Giani Chet Singh (Jathedar of Akal Takhat),S.Harnam singh ghotra(retd.Xen), Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh, Chaudhary Lakhi Singh, Major Sharam Singh, Lieutenant Fateh Singh, S.Sardaar singh karsana (founder of makhan shah lubana bhawan chandigarh).

Reservation System in India[edit]

In India's reservation system, Labanas are classified as Other Backward Class in many states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh etc. [21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Page 171, THE LUBANAS OF PUNJAB, Kamaljit Singh, Guru Nanak Dev University
  2. ^ Page 2, Volume 3, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. HA Rose
  3. ^ Raj Kumar (1 Jan 2008). Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables : Modern. Kalpaz Publications. p. 380. ISBN 81-7835-664-3. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  4. ^ SGPC Parkash. Gurmat Parkash. SGPC. p. 80. ISBN 81-7835-664-3.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help);
  5. ^ a b c History Of The Later Harappans And Silpakara Movement. History Of The Later Harappans And Silpakara Movement. Gyan Publishing House. p. 268. 
  6. ^ a b Supplement to the glossary of Indian terms. Supplement to the glossary of Indian terms. Henry Miers Elliot. p. 110.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help);
  7. ^ a b The Indian Encyclopaedia. The Indian Encyclopaedia. Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd,. p. 629. 
  8. ^ W. Hunter, The Imperial Gazetter of India, Vol. I, Truber & Co., London 1885, pp.181-82.
  9. ^ Studies on military transport By George Armand Furse P. 215
  10. ^ Dr Jaswant Singh,Panjab di Lubana Bradri,(1849-1947)
  12. ^ Retrieved Labana Samaj website, Maintained by All India Labana Samaj Vikas Mandal
  13. ^ Page 87, THE LUBANAS OF PUNJAB: Researcher: Kamaljit Singh
  14. ^ Sakhi 72, Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
  15. ^ Sikh Heritage
  16. ^ Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
  17. ^ Mahankosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Page 949
  18. ^ Transformation of the Sikh Society (Ethene K. Marenco) p. 120
  19. ^ Transformation of the Sikh Society (Ethene K. Marenco) p. 120
  20. ^ Punjab di Lobana Biradar, Dr. Jaswant Singh
  21. ^ Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh: Retrieved from National Commission of Backward Classes, India

External links[edit]