Thanks to My Pahari Bhasha, I Feel Like I Belong Somewhere
My Pahari defines my identity and I’m proud of my language.
(This piece was first published on 14 August 2017 and is being republished in light of recent calls for ‘One Nation, One Language’.)
My bhasha gives me a sense of identity, a sense of belonging in the present world of ambiguities and lost identities. In these times of material definition of ourselves, I feel my mother tongue is the most precious link between my roots and the "present" me.
My story is an ordinary one, but my love for my bhasha is immense. I was born in a small town, a pahari border town of Mendhar in Poonch district of the beautiful state of Jammu And Kashmir.
The people living along the border belt of Rajouri and Poonch districts speak a language known as Pahari. It’s a mix of Urdu, Pahari with some influences of Gojri (Gojri is the mother tongue of tribal Gujjars). The Pahari bhasha is spoken by over one lakh people in our state. Some of the locals who’ve migrated, are proud of their Pahari bhasha, and are thrilled when they hear the familiar language outside of their hometown. In every auspicious occasion, Paharis sing the melodies of Pahari tappe (songs in our dialect) and Pahari bhajans. This is their way of keeping their mother tongue alive.
I moved out of the Valley to pursue "bigger" dreams, "better" education, and a career in the capital city of Jammu.
Jammu was a new place, a new culture, but what kept me close to myself and clothed my identity in this new place was my mother tongue, my Pahari. The language always reminded me that I belong somewhere.
I cherish the folk Pahari songs and the folklores that my grandmother used to narrate to us as kids. All those memories form a part of me, and I revisit them whenever I feel lonely and lost. My Pahari identity and my roots always travel with me. My Pahari defines my identity and I speak my language with great pride.
(This article was sent to The Quint by Ambika Bali for our campaign, BOL – Love your Bhasha.)
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