Vohra Patel or Vora Patel (Gujarati વોહ્રા પટેલ) is an affluent, Sunni Muslim, patidar (land-owning) community, belonging to the Patel family of Hindu Kurmi Kshatriya ancestry, originally from Gujarat, India, particularly from the Bharuch District of Gujarat.
The United Kingdom is home to the largest population of Vohras outside of Bharuch. Vohras from Bharuch ('Bharuchis') initially settled in the mill towns of Lancashire where many still reside in large numbers. Although primarily situated in the mill towns of Blackburn, Bolton, Lancaster, and Preston, there are also large communities in Dewsbury, Leicester, and parts of London. Many of the initial migrant families of the community gained success during the economic prosperity of the textiles industry in North West England and, to this day, retain their wealth through assets. A large number of these affluent families are primarily from Lancashire, many of which are now in their third and fourth generations.
Common dishes of Vohras include kichry curry and dal-gosh (lentils with meat) and boiled rice (chaval).
History and Origin
The surname Patel is one of the most widely used name today. Originally the Kurmi Kshatriyas of Punjab, after having settled in Gujarat around 1400 A.D. were allocated the uncultivated land in Petlad Taluka by the Solankis, the rulers of Gujarat at the time. The Solanki ruler allocated land equivalent to one village to each Kurmi family for cultivation. In return, the family would pay the ruler a fixed income for a certain period of time, after which, the family would acquire the ownership of the land. The Kurmi caste succeeding in cultivating the land and prospered, later becoming the land-owners. Prior to the introduction of the name Patel in Gujarat, they were known as patidar. Patidar means "owner of land". ‘PATI’ means land and ‘DAR’ means the person who owns it.
Migration and Diaspora
- Africa - A large and successful Vohra community is found in Zambia where the first migrants from Bharuch came in the early 1900s. Recently many Vohra families migrated to South Africa, primarily for education.
- Mumbai - Many Muslim Patels have for several generations lived in the suburbs of Mumbai (Malad, Goregaon, Jogeshwari). The Patels in Mumbai are generally highly educated, in comparison to the land-owners in their ancestral lands.
- North America - Vohras also began to migrate to North America in the early eighties and communities are now found in Chicago, USA and in Toronto, Canada.
- Pakistan - Some members of Vora Patel community migrated to Pakistan after independence and settled in Karachi, Sindh.
- United Kingdom - Mostly originally settling in the mill towns of North West England, 25% of the Gujaratis in Britain are now settled in or around London, so that Gujaratis in the capital number some 400,000. Many Vohras moved to London during the early eighties as mills began to shut down during the Thatcher period. There are many positive contributions made by the Gujarati Vohras in Britain. Former British Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, pointed out in her message for 'Asian Business', they are "not only helping to bring new life back into the cities, but also into our smaller towns and villages. Gujarati's in Britain have earned a very creditable reputation for being hardworking and ambitious." HRH Prince Charles too and several other eminent people have prasied their achievements. Later generations of the community placed a high value on education, studying at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, where Gujarati boys and girls are well represented. However, the community in Britain is coming under scrutiny as they, like many immigrant communities, appear not to have integrated with the indigenous community, or with other communities. They are known to marry within their own community, have their own cemeteries, community centres and mosques. However, this too is changing as some of the initial settlers are returning to Bharuch on retirement or have died, leaving behind more progressive, later generations.
Notable Vora Patels
- Mr.Dullah Omar from Dayadara (Minister of Justice (1994) and Minister of transport (1999 to 2004) in South Africa.
- Adam Patel, Baron Patel of Blackburn (Member of the UK House of Lords)
- Ahmed Patel (Indian National congress Leader)
- Rashid Patel (Cricketer),
- Munaf Patel (Cricketer)
- Sajid Patel (CEO of Optimal Design, Chicago, USA)
- Haji Mussa Hassan Khan Sahib (Born 1849) (Vorasamni) (Was given the Title of "Khan Sahib" by Sir Lawrence Roger Lumley who personally came to Vorasamni and honoured him with a gold medal and the title of "Khan Sahib")
- Professor Alimuddin Zumla (Academic)
- Mohsin Patel (Project Engineer - Kobelco,Japan)
- Mustak Patel- Sherpura (Manager - Gujarat Gas Co ltd)
- Rahil Patel (Assistant Director, Mumbai)
- Samir Patel (Chemie-Tech Projects Ltd)