Mahra, Naich and Waiha tribes of South Punjab

In this post I shall look at three tribes, namely the Mahra, Naich and Waiha or Vehas, that are found mainly in South Punjab. They all have traditions of migration from Rajasthan, leaving the desert of the Thar and settling in the valley of the Indus or Sutlej. The Jats and Rajputs of this region are said to have came from Rajputana and Jaisalmer and converted to Islam in the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlak (ruler 1351 to 1388). According to tribal traditions, as the Bhati rulers of Jaiselmer extended their control, they extinguished the independence of the various Jat of the what was then known as the Jangal Desh. As the tribes moved west towards the valley of the Sutlej, they encountered a Sufi saint who converted them to Islam. One of the Sufi often referred to in the conversion story was Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari (1199–1291), which conflicts with the migration story under Tughlak. In Punjab, a claim of conversion at the hands of Sufi often adds prestige, therefore it is possible the migration occured latter under Tughlak, but the Sufi story was added later. One more point I wish to make that in Southern Punjab, the word Jat refers to any tribe that does not claim to be Saiyads, Baloch, Pathan and Qureshis and is somehow connected with agriculture. Therefore, according this definition, all these tribes are Jat.

Mahra

I start off by looking at the Mahra. According to tribal traditions, the Mahra were descended from a group of Chaghtai Mughals who were orignally settled in Delhi. However misfortune struck these group of Chaghtais, and in a feud, the entire tribe was slain, save a young boy. As he was found lying among the corpses, he was named Mars or Mehra, literally the dead one in Sindhi. He and his descendants migrated to the banks of the Indus. Here they contracted marriages with locally settled Jat tribes, and became Jat. However, despite this claim of Mughal origin, its worth mentioning that there are still several communities of Hindu Mahra Jats in Nagaur district such as Silanwad suggesting that the Mahra like the Naich and Waiha are also immigrants from the Jangal Desh.

They are still found along the banks of the Indus in Rajanpur District on the west bank and also in larger numbers in Alipur tehsil of Muzaffargarh District.Their main villages include Kot Mahra in Multan District, Bahadur Mahra, Mahra Faraz and Mahra Sharqi in Muzaffargarh District, Hazrat Wala in Rajanpur District, and Shaidani Sharif in Rahim Yar Khan District. A small number of Mahra are also found in northern Sindh.

Naich

The next tribe I will look at are the Naich, eastern neighbours of the Mahra. They are found largely in the valley of the Sultlej. The Naich claim to be Suryavanshi Rajputs, descended from Rajah Karan of the Mahabharata. Ninth in descent from Karan was a prince called Wadhol, Raja of Nainwal, who is said to have five sons – Langah, Naich, Shajra, Dahir and Bhutta. Naich is said to have a married a Jat, and his descendents became Jat. It is interesting to note the the other four names are all well known Jat tribes of South Punjab. According to their tribal traditions, they were converted to Islam by Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari, the famous saint of Uch Sharif at the same time as their hereditary foes the Bohar. However, despite both groups converting to Islam, their feud continued. The region around Uch Sharif became extremely dangerous as a result of this feud. The Sayyid had enough and arranged that they should intermarry. The Bohars obeyed, but when it came to their turn to give a daughter to the Bohar they not only refused to do so but killed their Bohar son-in-law. As a result of the feud, the Bohar moved to the Cholistan, and the Naich became effective rulers of the territory which is now known as Rahim Yar Khan, until the arrival of the Daudpotras in the 18th Century.

Their clans are :

Dandra.
Nawal.
Tarapa.
Ladhrini
Malhni.
Murani
Budhani
Hajani

Villages

Bahawalpur District

Ahmad Naich

Amin Naich

Basti Fazal Ilahi Naich

Basti Muhammad Naich

Channi Goth

Hamad Naich

Jhok Naich

Kotla Naichan

Mauza Laalo Naich

Mauza Mahand Naich

Naichan Wala

Tahir Wali

Qadra Naich

Rahim Yar Khan District

Allahabad

Ali Haider Naich

Azizpur

Basti Atta Muhammad Naich

Basti Gul Muhammad Naich

Basti Huzoor Bakhsh Naich

Basti Imam Bakhsh Naich

Basti Laala Naich

Basti Malik Ahmad Bakhsh Naich

Basti Malik Bakht Ali Naich

Basti Malik Ghulam Rasool Naich

Basti Muhammad Panah Naich

Basti Muhammad Hussain Naich

Basti Noor Ahmad Naich

Basti Wasaya Naich

Chak No. 15/A

Changni Chowk

Dandli Naich

Dub Naich

Hazary Wala

Janpur Naichan

Kachi Muhammad Khan

Kanjaki Wala

Khan Bela

Naich Wala

Naich

Noorpur

Pakka Laran

Pakka Naich

Patti Naich

Unra Shareef

Wahi Wala

Muzaffargarh_District

Basti Islamabad

Basti Naich

Bhambhoo Sandeela

Jalasar Wala

Khakwani Wala

Khathar Wala

Sabu Wala

Khanewal District

Arry Wala

Basti Allah Yar Naich

Bohar Wala

Chak No. 8/9R Qasba

Dhory Wala

Dilawar Wala

Dinga Naich

Goh Wala

Jallah Naich

Vehari District

Bair Wala

Chah Baqar Khan Naich

Chah Kor Wala

Chak No. 65/KB

Chak No. 200 EB/33

Dingi Pul

Gehli Chak No. 37/WB

Ghara Mor

Karampur Qasba

Kassi Wala

Mauza Khahi Peer

Mauza Mustafa Abad

Bhakkar District

Basti Naich

Bhamban Wala

Dera Naich

Mohallah Naichan Wala Kallar Kot

Mohallah Naichan Wala Kohawar Kalan

Mohallah Naichan Wala Kotla Jam

Layyah District

Jhok Naich

Naich Nagar

Naich Wala

Toba Tek_Singh_District

Baggi Saidpur

Basti Faram

Chak No. 690/32 GB

Rajanpur District

Basti Malik Amanullah Naich

Naich Wala

Lodhran District

Chah Naichan Wala

Dhanot

Jangal Naich

Dera Ghazi Khan District

Chah Qutab Wala

Naich Wala

Multan District

Basti Naich

Naich

Wahi Naich

Other Villages

Chak No. 19 NB (Punjab, Sargodha), Chak No. 99/12L (Chichawatni, Sahiwal), Goth Fateh Muhammad Naich (Pind Dadan Khan, Jehlum), Kassowal (Chichawatni, Sahiwal), Katana (Punjab, Noor Pur Thal, Khushab), Chak No. 52 AMB (Sargodha), Manda Khel (Isa Khel, Mianwali), Naich Naich (Pind Dadan Khan, Jehlum) and Nizamabad Naich (Thathi Muzamil, Shahpur, Sargodha).

Waiha / Veha

The last tribe I will look at this in this post are the Waiha or sometimes written as Veha.

They trace their origin to Jaisalmer and according to tribal traditions that in the 4th century of the Hijra (913 CE – 1009 CE) the Raja of that State gave Rurar, the modern Tajgarh, in dower to his daughter Huran, and that the place was named after her. This region is now part of the arid region of Cholistan, a region that was part of the Bhati state of Jaisalmer until the arrival of the Daudpotras from Sindh in the 18th Century. At the close of the 10th CE, the Sufi saint Sayyid Ahmad Billauri settled in the this part of Cholistan in a place now called Amingarh close to Rurar which is now found in the modern Rahim Yar Khan District. The Sayyid began to preach Islam among the tribes of this desert region. This region was then ruled by Raja Bhunak Bhati who became a convert to Islam. Therefore, by ancestry the Waiha are Bhati Rajputs.

There are a number of traditions as to why these the Raja and his family acquired the name Waiha. One of the tradition point to a change in their name on conversion, for one derives Veha from vih, the Seraiki word for twenty, as it was that leading members of the tribe having been converted with Raja Bhunak. Another derives the name from wahi cultivation, because the Raja of Jaisalmer, Bhunak’s overlord as well as kinsman, confiscated their lands on their conversion, and the Sayyid told them to take to cultivation. A third fanciful etymology derives Veha from wah, because their conversion was applauded by the Sayyid’s followers. The Waiha were largely pastoralist, but most of their homeland now has a network of canals, and they are now settled farmers.

Most Waiha villages are located near the town of Allahabad, in Liaqatpur Tehsil of Rahim Yar Khan District. Two other clusters are found in Tulamba near Multan and in Dera Ismail Khan District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.