BHALLA, a subdivision of Khatri (Prakrit form kstriya) caste, one of the four castes into which the Hindu society is divided. Khatris are further divided into four subgroups. i.e. Bahri, Khukhrain, Bunjahi and Sarin; the Bhallas belong to the Sarin subgroup. According to a legend, once `Ala udDin Khiiji, the Muslim ruler of India (d. 1316), attempted to impose widow remarriage upon the Khatri class. The Khatris of western region of the Punjab sent a deputation of fifty-two persons, each representing a subgroup of the Khatris, to plead their case at the Emperor`s court. These memorialists who were against widow remarriage came to be known as Bavanjai or Bunjahi from the number bavanja or 52, comprising the deputation.
Those living in the eastern part of the Punjab or Bari Doab did not sign that memorandum and obeyed the royal dictum on widow remarriage.They came to be known as followers of shara`m (Muslim law) which subsequently got abbreviated into Sarin. According to another view, sarin is corruption of sreni or line or a guild of traders. The Bara, or elder, Sarin group which Bhallas belong to comprises ten or, according to others, thirteen sections with whom they intermarry. Generally, they do not give their daughters outside their group, but take wives from Chhota, or junior Sarin group, which comprises 108 sections.
The Bhallas trace their origin to a pious man, who being philanthropic and kindhearted, was known as Bhala, lit. a good person. It might be his name or an honorific. His descendants came to be known as Bhalas or Bhallas. This caste acquired sacred character among the Sikhs when the guruship was conferred upon Guru Amar Das, the third in line from Guru Nanak, who was born in a Bhalla Khatri family and whose descendants are reverently called Bhalla Bavas.
1. Rose, H.A., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Patiala, 1970
2. Vanjara Bedi, Sohinder Singh, Panjabi Lokdhara Vishav Kosh, vol. II. Delhi, 1978