Walk History

HOW VILLAGES GOT THEIR NAMES

Have you ever wondered as to how did the villages get their names. It’s an interesting dig actually.

How the villages got their names is a fascinating study and often contains interesting traces of past history and conditions. Many of the villages are of recent date, especially in the Fazilka Tehsil, and the origin of the names is known with certainty. Sometimes the village was simply called by the name as Hasta, Alam Shah, Moga, Sema; sometimes the tribe was added as well- for example Khosa, Pandu, Mahomed Khan Niyazi. Sometimes a word was affixed like ka, ke, wal, ana, wana, meaning simply of or belonging to or put, nagar, abad, basti, khera, meaning town or dwelling place. At times what was added was garh, kot, burg meaning fort. Another addition was a Sar or dhab meaning pond. Similarly, patti and chak generally referring to an area smaller than the usual and frequently denoting that the place in question was carved out of an older village. Dona denotes an island in the river, jhok or bahak is a grazing place, bara or wars is a cattle pen, gatti is a piece of land transferred from one side of the river to the other; Talwandi perhaps means share.

There is some meaning behind every village name which sounds so interesting. There are villages which are named after its founder like my village name Chak Attar Singh Wala District Bhatinda is after my ancestor’s name. So is Burj Bighal Singh wala, one of my in-laws ancestor’s Village. Punjab’s biggest village Mehraj near Bhatinda was founded by Mohan on the name of his Grandfather Mehraj in 1680. Mehraj Village is Captain Amrinder Singh ‘s ancestral village. Lehra Mohabaat on Mohabaat (Grandson of Mohan) name. Lehra Sondha on Sondha’s name. Another village which is quite big, Middu Khera, is on the name of Baba Middu Singh and Mehna is on the name of Mehna Singh. Abohar is named after Abohar Rai’s name.

Often the name is simply that of the tribe or got of the founders eg Lohara, Sikhwala, Ball, Wandar, Mangat, Wiring, Aulakh and others. Sometimes the name of the founder is combined with that of his tribe for example Khosa Pando, Burhan Bhatti. Occasionally, the name enshrines the memory of the original inhabitants of the village as in the case of Jhabelwali which is a relic of the days when The Sutlej flowed under the Danda and the village was inhabited by Jhabel boatmen.

In a number of cases, the name of the village is that of the parent village from which the colonists came for example Wirpal from Amritsar, Dod from village in Faridkot. Often a village got its name from some conspicuous natural landmark like Ratta Tibba (Red Hill), Kala Tibba (Black Hill), Kallar Khera (barren), Roranwala (stony), Kabranwala (from an old tomb), Awa and Panjawa (old brick- kilns), Masitan (Mosque), Kili, Kotla, Burjan, Doburji, Dhulkot (from forts), Khai (an entrenchment ), Matwani (a dome mat), Sllians (shrines of Aulia), Attari (the double storeyed building). Similarly khuyyan and other various Khui Kheras were so named from wells, Pachkosi and Satkosi because of distant 5 and 7 kos, respectively from Abohar.

Many villages take their names from the ponds which were so important in the days when the country especially in the west of the district was a haunt of cattle grazers, these names were derived from grasses that were plentiful in their vicinity for example Kakkhanwali, Dhabwali, panniwala, kiowali, Buyanwala, Bhangar khera, kanianwali, or the ponds where the kakkh, dab, panni, kavi, buin,bhangra,and kani grasses abounded. Sometimes the name referred to the nature of the pond like khubban from clay soil, Gandar from the dirty water. Many places got their names from prominent trees or the abundance of certain plants Jandwala, Sareshwali, Tutwala, Pharwanwala, Phulahgarh, kikarwala, Pipli, Tahliwala, Banwala, Bhangchari (from the quality of bhang that grew there), Khippanwala (from khip), Jaure Jand (the pair of Jand trees), Tirmala (the three mal trees), Buddhi Mahl (the old mal tree), Gumja (the shady jal).

Others were named after animals that were plentiful in neighbourhood, for instance Shihanpari from the tigers that frequented the jungle in old days, Nilewala from the nikghai , Suranwali Dabra from the starlings, Moranwali from the peacocks, Miyanwala from the buffalos, Giddar and Gidranwali from the jackals, Kawanwali from the crows, Sappanwali from the snakes.

Sometimes the village took its name from some devotee who had established himself there in early times, for example Jogiwala, Fakrsar ( the fakir’s tank), Abul Kharana ) from fakir named Abdal khair), Dotaranwali ( after thr fakir who played on the double pipe).

Villages were also named from their shape or from some event in connection with their foundation, for example Jhandiana and Jhanda Bagga because flags were put up at their founding, Adhianan because half of the area belonged to Patiala and half was in British territory, Khunan from the murders committed there, kilanwali from a horse ‘s picketing pag, Gaddan Dhob because an ass was drowned in the pond, Shikarpur where Mr Oliver hunted,Landewali where a man found his tailless horse, kirianwali because the original founders used to sleep on grass mats( keri), Kanganpur from a fancied resemblance to the shape of a bracelet, Kundal from the crescent of sandhills round the village.

Interestingly, many names of places are purely fanciful given probably with the idea of ensuring good luck like Sukhchain , Fatehgarh, Dharmpura , Gurusar, Gobindgarh, Rasulpur and like.

Occasionally Villages received names which were derived from peculiarities or nicknames of their founders like Billimar (cat – killer), Madhra (dwarf), Langiana (because the founder was lame), Sanghu Dhaon (because one of the leading men had his head half cut off), Painchanwali (because Bahadur Chand, the founder was an arbitrator (panch) in Fazilka.

Written by Opinder Kaur Sekhon

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