Whether old or new all the languages are important for us as they are a part of our rich cultural heritage. One must not forget that ”diversity of all kinds is a treasure of mankind
Garhwali is a language spoken by the people of Garhwal who are also referred to as ‘Pahari’. It is a Central Pahari language which is spoken by over 2,267,314 people of Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand. The native language belongs to the Northern Zone of Indo-Aryan languages and is widely spoken by the people of north-western Garhwal Divison. It is one of the 325 recognized languages of India and the script used for Garhwali is Devanagari.
The Central Pahari languages include Garhwali and Kumauni which are spoken in Garhwal and Kumaun region respectively. Garhwali, like Kumauni, has many regional dialects spoken in different places of Uttarakhand. Garhwali is also spoken by people residing in other parts of India which includes Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. There about 2.5 million Garhwali migrants who live in Delhi and the National Capital Region but sadly only a few among them are fluent in Garhwali.
Garhwali is one of the languages which is shrinking very rapidly due to numerous reasons. According to the UNESCO’s report given by Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, indicates Garhwali language in the unsafe category. Therefore, effective measures should be taken to save the language. Those who know Garhwali can communicate in Hindi, which is one of the most commonly spoken languages of India.
However, this is one of the dialects which is dying slowly and is becoming out of fashion. No sooner we will see Garhwali as an endangered dialect as it is on the verge of extinction because people belonging to the hills have fashioned themselves in modernization.
People have lost touch with their mother tongue and those who speak Garhwali are looked down as underdeveloped natives. People residing in the cities don’t communicate in Garhwali and have adapted Hindi and English as their first language. A nation becomes strong when there is harmony between people of different communities who converse in a language which is threaded with love and reminds them of their roots. Therefore, efforts should be taken to save our language from burning to ashes. The loss of dialect will only be understood by the denizens when they will hear its name only in books and Wikipedia till then the shroud of modernity will blindfold their eyes with mysticism.
Small steps taken at the time of distress can lead to a great outcome. To save our colloquial dialect we must join hands and work together for preserving our language. Not just Garhwali but other ”Pahari” dialects like Kumauni, Jaunsari and Bhotia must be preserved. Our coming generations must value the richness of our culture and should feel proud by being attached to their roots. We must work altogether for saving our heritage given by our forefathers in the form of our dialect. ”Death of a dialect resembles the loss of concern for the people who keep mum on the lack of academic concern for preserving the language”.
Just like a toddler learns to stand up on his toes with the support of his parents our dialect should also be supported by the older generations so the younger ones can learn it. If parents will converse in Garhwali with their children then they will adopt the language as their mother tongue. The mind of a child is like clay which when molded by a skillful potter results in beautifully crafted pots. Just like a potter gently curves and shapes a utensil in his potter’s wheel, similarly, the parents must inculcate the feeling of love and respect in their children for their roots, their language and their origin.
Although Garhwali is the most spoken language of Uttarakhand, the state government has not recognized it yet. In spite of making the long-standing demand to make it the official language of Uttarakhand, the government has preferred to keep silence on this matter. Blame it on rampant migration, lack of interest, or the present generation’s seemingly less knowledge about its own dialect. There is hardly anybody from the younger lot who knows the language.
In our next article, we will update all the books which will help you learn and understand Garhwali language.