There are two main groups of Patels in Gujarat that make up the Patidar community: 1. Leva Patel/Patidar and 2. Kadva Patel/Patidar. The Kadva Patidar sub-caste is found mostly in districts of the Saurashtra region like Rajkot, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Mahesana. The Leva Patidar sub-caste is primarily concentrated in the Charotar Region (which are also known as Charotar Leuva Patidars), Kheda, Anand, Kanam, Baroda, Dahod, Bharuch, Panchmahal, Surat and Valsad. The Leva Patels are said to be the descendents of Lav, son of Lord Rama and the Kadva Patels who are said to be descendents of Kush.
The Leva Patels and Kadva Patels are known for their entrepreneurial skills in business and agriculture having a strong hold in Gujarat and have made a name for themselves around the world. There are religious and ideological differences between various groups of Patels. They have their own social samaj (gatherings) and mandirs at various locations. The Patel community followed an age-old tradition of marrying within their ‘GOL’ or circle, but with changes in economic status, global influence, literacy and education, changes are now taking place and Patels are increasingly marrying outside the Gols.
Other Gujaratis who migrated out of what is now the state of Gujarat during the British Raj to British East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) sometimes adopted the surname ‘Patel’, and this surname was then subsequently passed onto their descendants (who now mainly reside outside Kenya and Uganda). Also, during the British Raj, some ‘Patels’ who migrated to British East Africa and the Union of South Africa (South Africa) adopted different surnames, usually the name of their village, their trade or even their grandfather’s name. Subsequently, these surnames have been passed down to their descendants.
The “Patel motel” phenomenon, as it is popularly known, has made a major impact on the American hospitality industry.
The surname is the second most common last name in India, following Singh. “The trend started in the early 1940’s, though the real growth took place in the 1960’s and 1970’s.”
A sizable number of Indian immigrants to the United States came in the 1960s and 1970s, when the motel industry was booming. Many of them bought up undervalued and dilapidated properties and turned them into businesses. As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel – a popular one among Indian Gujaratis(those that came from Gujarat).)
“According to the Asian American Hotel Association (A.A.H.O.A), 50 percent of hotels and motels in the United States are owned by people of Indian Origin”. A large immigrant population of Gujurati’s came in the 1960s and 1970s. These Patels known as the founding fathers, worked hard and saved then invested in a lot of properties. Having a steady amount income and savings, they called over their distant relatives and friends from the villages of India. Upon their arrival, they would already have financial assistance from the founding fathers and start up their own businesses. Even though Patels are evenly spread throughout the country they still have held onto their vast network, which has definitely been a key to their entrepreneurship.