Languages of Uttarakhand - 6 Languages From The Devbhoomi Of India

Uttarakhand is home to people of multiple ethnicities who speak multiple languages. Although the main languages of Uttarakhand are Garhwali and Kumaoni, these are not the official languages of the state. The six local languages spoken in Uttarakhand are Hindi, Sanskrit, Garhwali, Kumaoni, Jaunsari and Urdu.

1. Hindi

Hindi is one of the major languages of Uttarakhand and is spoken by the majority of the population. Hindi is the official language of the state of Uttarakhand and one of the official languages of India as recognised by the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. It is taught in schools and is used as a medium to teach other subjects as well. Even in the schools located in the remote areas of Uttarakhand, Hindi is the language in use. Although it isn't the mother tongue of the people living in the remote regions of Garhwal or Kumaon, it is the one they are educated in.

2. Sanskrit

Sanskrit is mostly read in texts and taught in schools in Uttarakhand. This ancient language is no longer in popular use or has many practical purposes, but it is an important language in which other languages are rooted. Although Sanskrit isn't a language that is used by people to interact on a daily basis, it has been given the status of the second official language of Uttarakhand. Although many of us might not even remember Sanskrit, it is taught as a compulsory subject in schools. Even in Uttarakhand, children learn to read and write this language in schools. 

3. Garhwali

Languages of Uttarakhand
Source
Garhwali is a regional language of Uttarakhand that is spoken in the northwestern Garhwal region. Garhwali has many dialects like Srinagariya, Badhani, Tehri, Lohbya, Jaunsari etc. which differ from one another. For instance, people in Tehri Garhwal and Pauri Garhwal speak a different type of Garhwali which often is hard to understand by the people of other community.

Garhwali has mostly been existent as a spoken language that was passed on from one generation to another, verbally. Today, one can find Garhwali prevalent in the form of songs. It has been popularised through folk singers like Narendra Singh Negi. Apart from Uttarakhand, the Garhwali language has even been established in cities like Delhi and Mumbai where Garhwali Kavi Sammelans have been hosted.

4. Kumaoni

Kumaoni People of Uttarakhand
Source
Kumaoni is another dominant regional language of Uttarakhand. It is a Central Pahari language like Garhwali spoken by people belonging to the Kumaon region. As Garhwali, there are regional dialects in Kumaoni although they do not differ much from one another. They can be broadly categorised according to the region as central Kumaoni in Almora and Nainital, north-eastern Kumaoni in Pithoragarh, and southeastern Kumaoni in the south-eastern part of Nainital.

Kumaoni language uses the Devanagari script and follows the same rules of grammar as other Indo-Aryan languages. Kumaon has a rich culture which is reflected in its literature, theatre and folk music. Today, Kumaoni speaking population is declining, and the government needs to put in efforts to conserve this language.

5. Jaunsari

Jaunsari is a language which is spoken by the Jaunsari tribal community of Uttarakhand. It is a Western Pahari language and is spoken by 1 lakh people in India. The Jaunsari tribe is found in the Jaunsar-Bawar region of Dehradun district and is considered a scheduled tribe as per the Constitution of India. This tribe believes themselves to be the descendants of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. Jaunsari language is regarded as a dialect of the Garhwali language, but it listed as another language because Jaunsari is a significant tribal community of Uttarakhand. Today, Jaunsari is a "definitely endangered" language as per the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

6. Urdu

Uttarakhand is also home to Urdu speaking population which comes down to 5.88%, as per the 2011 Census. Urdu speakers are a minority group in Uttarakhand. One can find them not in the remote regions of the mountains but in cities like Haridwar.

Uttarakhand is a multilingual state which is home to people of various communities. Today, there are a lot of migrants who have shifted to this Himalayan state either for business or pleasure, thus increasing the diversity of Uttarakhand. In recent years, the population of Punjabi, Bengali, Nepali and Maithili speakers has seen a rise. 

This post was published by Akshita Rawat

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