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Languages Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Chhattisgarhi, Rajasthani, Telugu, Magadhi and Kurmali.
Populated States Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand,Bihar
Subdivisions Matiya, Anjana, Kadva, Dhodia, Leuva, Koli, Charotar, Modh, Kamma, Lingayat, Parsi, Khandayat, Aghria, Khati, Kurmi

Patel is a surname representing a caste of village leaders. In the state of Gujarat, from the middle of the 1500s through the 1900s, the Patel of a village would be a member of the village committee who would help represent the whole village's views to the local council and take the lead in resolving problems and implementing ideas. Patels are not listed among the "backward castes" of India, and most Patels work in agriculture or have their own businesses in various sections of commerce. It is currently also used as a surname like Patidar, or replaced by an ancestral name.

Patels are separated in many subcastes named Leuva Patel (or Leva Patel), Kadva Patel, Matiya Patidar or Matiya Patel.[1]


The term patel derives from the word Patidar, literally "one who holds pieces of land called patis", implying a higher economic status than that of the landless.[2] Consequently, the name "Patel" originally referred to one who was tasked with taking care of or farming such a piece of land, or who was the headman of the community.


The name Patel is found primarily in the Indian state of Gujarat,[3] as well as the states of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and in some eastern part of Madhya Pradesh; and metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Kanpur, Banda and Delhi.

The surname is also prevalent in some English-speaking countries due to migration from India. Within the United Kingdom, it is the twenty-fourth most common surname nationally,[4][full citation needed] and the third most common in the Greater London region.[5][full citation needed] In the US, the surname "Patel" ranks 174 among the top 500 list of most common last names, as of the 2000 US Census.[6] In the Canadian city of Toronto, "Patel" is the sixth most common surname.[7]


Gujarati Patels were historically agriculturalists. Patels comprise one of the wealthiest communities across the globe due to the abundance of fertile land in Gujarat, and particularly tobacco production. Patels have migrated to various countries and enhanced their wealth. The Patidar community benefited from British Reforms during the 19th century and their wealth increased accordingly. The Patel community varies by religion and ideology, with disparate groups having their own samaj (social gatherings) and mandirs. Most of them follow vegetarianism, due to the influence of Hinduism and Jainism. The modern Patel communities have branched out of agriculture to a variety of business trades, especially in hotels. Patels dominate the pharmaceutical, chemical, medical, plastic, building construction, ceramic and diamond industries in Gujarat.[8]

"Patel hotel" phenomenon[edit]

The "Patel hotel" or "Patel motel" phenomenon, as it is popularly known,[8] has made a major impact on the American hospitality industry.

A sizable number of Indian immigrants to the United States came in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of them worked in blue collar jobs and saved up to buy undervalued or dilapidated properties, turning them into businesses.[9] As many as 50% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties all over the US are owned by people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel—a popular one among Indian Gujaratis (those that came from Gujarat).[10][11]

In popular culture[edit]

The Gujarati film Kevi Rite Jaish satirizes the community's fascination with emigrating to the United States.[12]

In the documentary film Meet the Patels, actor Ravi Patel discusses the surname as his family in India and the US seek to find him a wife from within the Patel clan.



  1. ^ Koli Patel
  2. ^ Basu, Pratyusha (2009). Villages, women, and the success of dairy cooperatives in India: making place for rural development. Cambria Press. pp. 51–55. ISBN 978-1-60497-625-0. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Washburn, Edward (2005). India Old and New: With a Memorial Address. p. 178. ISBN 0-543-99414-7. 
  4. ^ The BBC Four documentary Meet the Patels asserted that there are around 410,000 to 670,000 Patels in the United Kingdom.
  5. ^ Most common surnames in Greater London, UK
  6. ^ US Census 2000: Most Common Surnames
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Varadarajan, Tunku. "A Patel Motel Cartel?". The New York Times, 4 July 1999.
  9. ^ Skop, Emily (2007). "Asian Indians and the Construction of Community and Identity". In Ines M. Miyares, Christopher A. Airriess. Contemporary ethnic geographies in America. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 271–90 [277]. ISBN 978-0-7425-3772-9. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Kamdar, Mira (2007). Planet India: how the fastest-growing democracy is transforming America and the world. Simon and Schuster. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7432-9685-4. 
  11. ^ Ungar, Sanford J. (1998). Fresh blood: the new American immigrants. U of Illinois Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-252-06702-0. 
  12. ^ Kevi Rite Jaish. IMDb