Koshur – the Bol and Pride of Kashmir
If you are proud to be a Kashmiri then it’s your duty to protect Koshur, the soul of Kashmir.
(This piece was first published on 12 August 2017 and is being republished in light of recent calls for ‘One Nation, One Language’.)
I have no compelling story to share but no words either to describe my mother tongue. I belong to Kashmir and Kashmiri is my mother tongue. For me, undoubtedly, it’s the sweetest language on the planet.
People shy away from speaking in their mother tongue. In our Valley, parents often speak only in Urdu or English to their children. In schools and colleges, kids are taught Urdu and English. Why so? What’s wrong with Kashmiri bol? It’s the duty of parents to ensure that their kids learn the native language.
Mother tongue is the recognition of a nation and people should be proud of it. I have always wondered that if speaking in one’s native language makes one feel gawar than all Britishers are gawar because they are always speaking in their mother tongue, which is English.
Kashmiri or Koshur is a language from the Dardic subgroup of the Indo-Aryan languages and it is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley and Chenab valley of Jammu and Kashmir. There are approximately 55,27,698 speakers throughout India, according to the Census of 2001. According to the 1998 Census, there were 132,450 Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PaK).
According to Professor Khawaja Abdul Rehman, the Kashmiri language spoken in the Neelam Valley is on the verge of dying.
Koshur is a part of the Eighth Schedule in the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Along with other regional languages mentioned in the Sixth Schedule, as well as Hindi and Urdu, the Kashmiri language is yet to be popularised in the state. Most Kashmiri speakers use Urdu or English as a second language. Since November 2008, the Kashmiri language has been made compulsory in all government schools in the valley up to the secondary level.
In 1919, George Abraham Grierson wrote that, “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature.” Kashmiri literature dates back to over 750 years, which is, more-or-less, the age of many modern languages including modern English.
Finally, I’d like to say that Kashmiri language is the pride and recognition of the Kashmir Valley. I'm sure, every single Kashmiri is proud of their identity. If you are proud to be a Kashmiri then it’s your duty to protect Koshur, the soul of the valley.
(This article was sent to The Quint by Nasir Manzoor for our campaign BOL – Love your Bhasha.)
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