Sainis are a Rajput descent agricultural and landowning caste of Punjab . The Saini Sikhs are found in the sub-mountainous region of Punjab. They dominate in a significant number of villages in Hoshiarpur, Nawanshehr, Jalandhar, Ropar and Gurdaspur. The neighboring sub-mountainous districts of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also have considerable Saini Sikh population. They are not found in any significant numbers in the lower and the interior Punjab, although the descendants of Sardar Nanu Singh Saini of Phulkiyan, who were a part of the Patiala nobility, at one time held one of the largest estates in the erstwhile princely state. Their real strongholds , however, are in the areas of Jalandhar and Bari Doabs where they exclusively own a large number of villages, and where they also held the Zaildari in the British era.
Interesting accounts are given about the origin of Sainis. Their origin is traced to the Jadubansi Rajputs of Mathura and Delhi who came to Punjab to thwart the repeated attacks of Ghazni's generals on this area. These specific battles are said to be duly recorded in Tarikh-i-Alfi. These Rajputs were called Sainis or Shoorsainis because these rulers of Mathura region traced their origin to Krishna's grandfather , Maharaja Shoorsen. The existence of a Yadava origin Saini Rajput dynasty, i.e. the Shoorsainis, which ruled Mathura in a period ranging between 700 and 1100 CE, is recorded by historians such as Cunningham. As per the historical and local accounts, when these Rajputs lost these battles they had no choice other than facing slaughter or conversion to Islam. Some Rajputs converted under duress and started being addressed with the names such as Ranghars, Khanzadas , Ghauri Pathans, etc. Some, desperate to retain their estates and influence, started marrying their women to the Muslim conquerors as part of the prevalent "Dola" culture. This was considered a reprobate practice by the orthodox Hindus. These Rajputs were thus considered degraded and the inter-marriage between them and the other Rajputs stopped. This led to the birth of various endogamous groupings within the Rajputs.
Some Rajputs living under the sword in the Muslim-ruled areas , however, started downplaying their identity to escape conversion and "Dola" enforced ritual pollution targeted at the rebellious Rajput groups (and also Brahmins in some cases) . The Sainis are said to be one such Rajput group who took up agriculture in this era. Many of their clan names such as Badwal, Tirotia, Salaria, Dhamrait, Mangar, Darar, Gehlon, Tambar, Banwait, etc are identical or very similar to those of the Rajputs found on the neighboring hills which suggests that both were at one time part of the same stock which later got fragmented into separate groups due to the reasons already mentioned. The comparative ABO distribution studies conducted on both the groups, which were published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 1961, had confirmed identical genetic markers of both the groups, while at the same time showing significant differences between them and those of other leading castes of the area such as Jats, Aroras, etc. This also strongly indicates a common ancestry. The oral and historical accounts thus do have some scientific corroboration in this particular case.
Since 1931 the surname Saini is also used by Mali groups of Rajasthan and some other states. These however are different from the Sainis that are found in Punjab and are said to have no marital links with them.
Saini Sikh Sub Castes
Banwait , Banait (Banawat)
Bhowra, Bhaura, Bhaora
Gidda, Gidde, Giddar
Golan, Goli, Goleria
Hadwal (pronounced 'Harhwal' )
Kaberwal (Caberwal , Kabadwal)
Mundh , Mundra
Pabla (Pabe, Pablay and Pabme may be identical)
Patrota (may be a variation of ''Tirotia '')
Salaria , Salariye
Tamber (Tumber, Tanwar)
Thind (actual pronunciation "Thinde or Thinday")
Tirotia (derived from ''Torawati" in Rajputana)
Sikh Caste Names >