In this post I shall be looking at four tribes, namely the Channar, Ghaleja, Jandran, and Maitla. Other then the Ghalejas, the other tribes are found mainly in the Neeli Bar, in particular its southern edges. They are all of Jat status, and were archetypal Bar nomads, speaking the Jhangochi dialect, which has now merged into modern Seraiki. In terms of distribution, the Channar are found at southern end of the Neeli Bar, mainly in Lodhran district, but extend over the Sultlej river into Bahawalpur, moving slightly to the north we find the Channar, the Jandran even further north in Okara, the Maitla mainly near Multan and at the southern along in Indus in Rahim Yar Khan end we find the Ghaleja.
I start off by looking at the Channar, a tribe found mainly Lodhran District and Bahawalpur District. There are several origin stories, but perhaps the most interesting connects them with the Pir Channan, a famous Sufi saint of Cholistan.
According to one of the origins myths the Channan are connected with the Jakhars, Kanju, Noons and Utteras. All these five clans assume the title of Rana, and are mythical sons of Rana Rajwadhan, a Bhatti Rajput. Therefore, this suggests that the Channar are Bhatti by origin.
However, in Bhawalpur there is a strong tradition that they are descended from Pir Channar. The question before us is who was this mysterious Pir Channar.The Pir Channar legend starts with the arrival of the Sufi saint Jalaluddin Surkhposh. After arriving in Cholistan, the saint is believed to have stayed in a place now known as Channan Pir. At that time, this area was ruled by a king named Sadharan. Since the King was childless, the royal couple approached the saint who foretold the birth of their son. When the prince was born, his beauty won him the name of Channan, meaning moon in the local language. In a twist of fate, while still a child, Channan started reciting the Kalma. As word spread about the crown prince’s different faith, his political reputation was brought to abrupt end. The King immediately ordered the execution of his son but on the Queen’s intervention the sentence was softened to exile.
Young Channar was left over a mound to fend for himself. A few days later a group of travellers saw him being fed by a deer. On hearing of her son’s fate, the Queen rushed to the desert and started staying with her son. Her defiance enraged the king who renewed his son’s death sentence. From this point the story deviates into many conclusions. Some say when the assassins reached the mound, Channan Pir had disappeared while others believe he grew up to become a saint, enlightening the life of many faithful. Another version, in which the king and saint’s names vary, claims that on witnessing his son’s divine arrangement, the King accepted Channan who made the mound his permanent abode. Regardless of the version’s initial narration, they all conclude with Channan Pir either disappearing, dying and getting buried on the mound, making it a relic of faith for centuries to come. His legacy has survived, with an annual fair held which is a gathering of all the Cholistan tribes.
In Bahawalpur, the Channar are often referred to as the Channun-di, or sons of Channar. However, there other strong traditions that the Pir never married and that the Channars are descended from his seven brothers, sons of Rai Sandhila. Their main clans in Bahawalpur are Admani, Ram, Wisal, Bhojar, and Bharpal, said by some of the tribe to be the five sons of Channar.
In Lodhan District, important Channar villages includes Chah Anganwala and Kikerwala.
The Ghaleja tribe gets its name from its ancestor, Ghale, the ending ja means the decendent off in Sindhi. With the Ghalejas, there is some argument as whether Ghale was a Abbasi Arab or a Samma Rajput. The great majority of Sindhis belong to the Samma community, and there are a number of origin myths. One such is quoted by Sadiq Ali Ansari in his work on the Sindhi tribes, that name is a shortened form of Samunhun meaning face to face, i.e. their ancestor came face to face with Islam, or converted to Islam. There are still a great many Ghalejas still in Sindh. The Punjab Ghaleja claim descent from Lal Khan, who migrated from Hyderabad in Sind and settled in the Lamma (Rahim Yar Khan district) and founded Ghauspur, naming it after Gaus Bahu-nd-Din Zakariya of Multan, his religious guide. When this region came under the control of the Abbasi Daudpotras, the Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan II assigned a thirteenth of the revenue of Ghauspur to Lal Khan’s descendants. Kaure Khan Ghaleja accompanied that Nawab to the siege of Multan in 1848, and received a considerable jagir in Gauspur for life.
The Ghalejas are divided into (i) the khalis or pure Ghalejas, and
(ii) sixteen sub-septs, being the Yarani, Sada, Lalla, Luthra, Kuddan, Jara, Gehenri, Kekri, Lang, Natham, Chhatani, and Midani.
Like other Sindhi Jats, their chiefs add the title Jam to their names.
Looking next at the Jandran, who according to their traditions came to the Punjab, accompanying the Mughal Emperor Zahiruddin Babur during his invasion of India (circa mid 15th Century). After the conquest of subcontinent by Mughals, the ancestors of the Jandran were settled in the Neeli Bar. Another tradition however, gives the Jandran a Sindhi origin, the tribe having originated in the Makran region of Baluchistan, and migrating to Punjab in the 15th Century. Despite their claim to Mughal ancestry, the Jandran consider themselves and are considered by others as Jats.
In terms of distribution, starting with Okara, they are found in Jandran Kalan and Jandran Khurd, in Sargodha at Jandran, in Khushab at Rahdari and in Jhelum at Pindi Saidpur. There are other Jandran settlements in Jhang, Khanewal, Vehari, Lahore, Lodhran, Hafizabad, Gujranwala and Faisalabad districts.
Maitla or Metlo, somtime spelt Metla, are a tribe of Jats status. According to tribal traditions, they descend from Maitla, a Dogra Rajput, who converted to Islam during the rule of Firuz Shah Tughlaq, and settled in Sialkot. Like the Lodhra looked at in a different post, the Maitla then migrated to the Neeli Bar, settling in an area that now forms the boundary between Khanewal and Multan district, practising pastoralism. With the rise of the Multan nawabs and their allies the Dahas, groups of Metla began to migrate westward into the Derajat and southward into Sindh. In Sindh, the Maitla, or Maitlo as they are known are settled in Larkana District. They are one of a number tribes, collectively known as Serai or those from the north found in Sindh. Other important Serai tribes include the Joiya, Kharal and Sial. These Serais were invited to settle in Sindh during the period of Kalhora rule (18th Century), and the Maitlo still speak the Seraiki language.
The Maitla tribe has also produced a number of important Sufis, such as Dada Gajjun Darvesh Maitla, whose shrine is located near the city of Khanpur in Rahim Yar Khan district, and Karim Bakhsh Maitla alias Baba Haq Ali who is buried in historical at Pattan Munara near Rahim Yar Khan.
Despite the 18th Century dispersion, most Maitla are still found in Jahanian Mandi Tehsil of Khanewal district, in particular the village of Kotwala. Outside this core area, Maitla are in the districts of Jhang, Sargodha, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Bhakkar, Vehari, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Gujranwala, Sheikhpura, Faisalabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Jhelum, Narowal, Sialkot, Okara, Sahiwal, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rahim Yar Khan in the Punjab and Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushahro Feroze, Sanghar, Larkana, Dadu and Badin in Sindh. In Sargodha District, important Maitla villages include Chack 53 SB (Rajewala) and Chak 87.