History of Grewals – Punjabi Jatt Sikhs

Grewal is a famous surname for Jatt Sikhs  around the world. Being a Grewal myself , I often wondered what is so  special about GREWALS. Grewal is same as Garewal or GrewalZ. Below is a comprehensive article depicting our origin, history and  distribution. Garewal (गरेवाल ), an important Jat tribe in Ludhiana, which claims to be of sau or gentle status. Hindu Garewal are also found in Montgomery.There is no unanimity on the issue of the origin of this gotra. Some believe that this gotra originated from the Chandelas. Some authors have associated it with the Rathores while still others prove that Rathore gotra originated from Gaherwal gotra which is also called Grewal.

Jatt Clan: Grewal/ Garewal

Distribution   Punjab, Haryana (India) and Punjab (Pakistan)
Descended from:   Indo-Aryan
Branches:   None
Religion   Sikhism
Languages   Punjabi, Haryanvi
Surnames:   Grewal, Garewal

History and origin

The Grewal community claim to be descendants of the Chandela Rajputs of Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh in North India. Chandels are one of the 36 royal castes of Rajputs. At one time, Chandels ruled over Bundelkhand. This state fell in the middle of rivers Yamuna and Narmada. They had a fort at Kalinjar.They came into Punjab around 1469 AD. Guru Hargobind visited Gujjarwal in 1631 AD. A few Grewals converted to Sikhism at this time. Grewals also contributed in the freedom fight of India. Kartar Singh Sarabha (Grewal) from Sarabha village lead the fight and was accepted as a guru by the freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

Located south of the Sutlej River, the Grewals came under British rule early even as Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidated the Sikh Empire all the way to Kabul. The Grewal villages are characterized by small land holdings and a complete lack of large estates called zamindaris. In contrast, the Grewal villages with a rural middle class prospered and established schools which led to further progress. Education became the passport for the Grewals to travel and obtain positions across the Punjab and also relieve pressure on the small land holdings. They also joined the British-India mercenary army and fought in wars from Mesopotamia to Germany.

Grewal Women :

Women’s emancipation came early to the Grewals: a girl’s high school was established in Gujjarwal over a hundred years ago. Grewal girls like Dr Gurdial Kaur Grewal and Dr Shivdev Kaur Grewal traveled to Delhi and graduated from Lady Hardinge Medical College early in the twentieth century. With education came problems for the girls; while sought after as educated brides, they were also less likely to accept the often vicious treatment of daughters-in-laws across the Punjab. The prohibition of Grewals marrying Grewals only made the matters worse. Female infanticide was not unusual across Grewal villages: it was perceived as less painful compared to watching a life-time of torture by the in-laws. In the Grewal villages women held equal power and worked and moved freely where they pleased.

Distribution Grewal Villages

The main villages of the Grewals/ Garewals are Dolon Kalan, Dolon Khurd, Alamgir, Sarabha, Sahouli, Narangwal, Qila Raipur, Gujjarwal, Lohgarh, Dhaipai, Ratan, Dhandra, Dulay, Thrike, Baddowal, Jassowal Sudhan, Chupki, Sarabha, Lalton Kalan, Lalton Khurd, Jhande, Mansuran, Jodhan, Humanyunpura, Barewal, Koga, Grewal, Mehma Singh Wala, Phallewal, Daad, Malakpur Bet, Hawas, Khawajke, Sirha (Chude kuku wala), Noorwal, Thakkerwal, Majri, Bihla, Sukhana, Khanjarwal, Mehmoodpur, Assi Kalan, Aandlu, Ballowal, Koga near Kharar (Mohali District), Sural Kalan (near Rajpura, Patiala District), bandi(near bhatinda), Chaminda, Butahri, Chubki, Khedi Jhamedi, Kadian, Buraj Pakka, Bamla, and Chandeni,(Hakmabad,16, 17,19z, Sriganganagar, (Rajasthan), Bijwasan(New Delhi), Dalampur(Meerut,U.P.), Kalyanpur and Lohdda(Meerut,U.P.). There are Grewal villages close to Fazilka (Ferozepur) and Dabhwali in Haryana.

Many Jat Sikh Grewal/ Garewal families are also based in parts of Jalandhar District such as villages Bilga, Talwan, Sareenh, Paasla and Pharwala in Hoshiarpur District, the Village of Jalota Ear Dasuya. Amritsar district has a dense population of Grewals in Khojala village. Sangrur district has big villages settled by Grewals named Rai Singh and Sakroudi who came from Qila Raipur; Dhaner (who came from Ratan), Raekot (from Ratan and Dhandra) Nurpur bet (from Dhandra), Koolee, Jamalpur Awana, Madewal, Panj Bhainian (all from Ratan.Most of these families are engaged in farming and business.

The city of Phillaur in Doaba region, adjacent to the Malwa region, was originally named as Phulnagar (The Town of Flowers) by a Grewal Jatt called Phul Singh Grewal.

Many Grewals/ Garewals also live in Sriganganagar, Hakmabad(Rajasthan) capital of Punjab & Haryana states Chandigarh and capital of India, New Delhi

Grewals today

Most of the Grewals in India are settled in the districts of Bhiwani,Hisar,Jind and Ludhiana in Haryana and Punjab. Many can also be found abroad, especially in south east Asia, Australia and the UK.

Grewal 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.

Star People

Grewals in Indian Mining Industry, the 1st Grewal to join Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad 1st batch was S. Sarwan Singh Grewal in 1926, who went on to become the 1st Indian Chief Inspector of Mines in 1954. S Balbir Singh Grewal joined Indian School of Mines in 1940, Pickering Medalist standing 1st All 4 years, 1st Indian M.Tech in Mining from Shefield University U.K. in 1947, 1st Indian Acting Chief Mining Engineer,in 1953 of Shaw Walace & Company in Madhya Pradesh. Left when Coal Mines were Nationalised in 1971. He then Ran his Farm of 50 Acres in Village Hawas, Ludhiana for more than 30 years, before he expired in 2008.

There were 9 more Grewal’s closely related to each, who have Graduated from Indian School of Mines till 1971, with P.S. Grewal being the last & 2nd Generation Mining Engineer. Grewal’s practically ran the Mining Industry Coal/Iron Ore for more than 25 years till Nationalisation with Mr Jagjit Singh Grewal, General Manager RCA, being the most famous. Women’s emancipation came early to the Grewals: a girl’s high School was established in Gujjarwal and Qila Raipur nearly a hundred years ago. Grewals/Garewals were also the first among the Jat sikh clans to encourage their daughters to seek higher education and seek outside employment as opposed to 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. With education came problems for the girls: while sought after as educated brides, they were also less likely to accept the often vicious treatment of daughters-in-law across India. The prohibition of Grewals marrying Grewals made the matters only worse. Even though infanticide was common across Punjab at the turn of the 20th century, it was common for large Grewal families to include more girls than boys. In the Grewal villages, women held equal power and often worked on the farms.

Location–Ludhiana, India 141001 , Grewals/ Garewals 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. Almost all of the Grewals from village Bilga in district Jalandhar now live in England.

The very first husband-wife team to be elected to the Canadian Parliament was Grewal (that of Mrs. Nina Grewal and Mr. Gurmant Grewal). Mr. Gurmant Grewal was later embroiled in a controversy and did not seek re-election. Mrs. Nina Grewal is still a sitting member of Canadian Parliament. British television channel 4 depicted life of a Grewal family living in borough of Hounslow near Heathrow airport in a real life show called Family in 2009. (www. thegrewalfamily.com) Justice Gurnaam Singh Grewal from Mehma Singh Wala village was the Chief Minister of Punjab for a short period of time. Inderjit Singh Grewal from Qila Raipur was a Member of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in the 11th House of the Mini Parliament of Sikhs from 1996 to 2004.

Grewals have won two gold medals at the Olympic Games: In Berlin (Germany)- 1936 Summer Olympics, by Gurbachan Singh Garewal as a player of the Indian men’s hockey team; and in Los Angeles (USA) – 1984 Summer Olympics, by Alexi Grewal in the individual road race, becoming the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in cycling.

Notable Grewals

  • Kartar Singh Sarabha Grewal – Indian independence movement leader
  • Nina Grewal – Canadian politician of the Conservative Party
  • Gurmant Grewal – Former Canadian Conservative Party MP; Husband of Nina Grewal
  • Alexi Grewal – Olympic gold medalist and former professional road racing cyclist
  • Simi Garewal – Former Bollywood actress
  • Gippy Grewal – bhangra singer
  • Ravinder Grewal – bhangra singer
  • Garewal Singh – First Grewal Olympian, won gold medal at Berlin Olympics

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