Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bhojpuri language

Bhojpuri (pronunciation (help·info)) is a very popular regional language spoken in parts of north-central and eastern India. It is spoken in the western part of state of Bihar, the northwestern part of Jharkhand, and the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh, as well as an adjoining area of southern plains of Nepal. Bhojpuri is also spoken in Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago and Mauritius and is often said to be the only Indian language to be spoken on all continents. The language of the Surinamese Hindus, however, is seldom referred to as Bhojpuri but usually as Sarnami Hindi or just Sarnami.

People's attitudes towards the Bhojpuri language have evolved over time, and most linguists agree it is not a dialect of Hindi[citation needed], which is a widespread belief among speakers. Others, including the government of India while taking census, disagree, and consider Bhojpuri to be a dialect of Hindi. But now the government of India is preparing to grant it statutory status of as a national scheduled language.

Bhojpuri shares vocabulary with Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and other Indo-Aryan languages of northern India. Bhojpuri and several closely related languages, including Maithili and Magadhi, are together known as the Bihari languages. They are part of the Eastern Zone group of Indo-Aryan languages which includes Bengali and Oriya.

There are numerous dialects of Bhojpuri, including three or four in eastern Uttar Pradesh alone.

Some notable Bhojpuri personalities are the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, Manoj Bajpai, and former Indian prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

Number of speakers
According to an article published in Times of India, an estimated 70 million people of Uttar Pradesh and 50 million of western Bihar speak Bhojpuri. Besides this about 6 million Bhojpuri speaking people are living in foreign countries including Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Uganda, Singapore, Trinidad & Tobago and United States. This makes the total Bhojpuri speaking population in the world close to 140 million.

Bhojpuri dialects, varieties, and creoles are also spoken in various parts of the world, including Brazil, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many colonizers had faced labor shortages and were unable to obtain slaves from Africa due to the abolition of slavery; thus, they imported many Indians as indentured servants to labor on plantations. Today, many Indians in the West Indies, Oceania, and South America still speak Bhojpuri as a native or second language.

Bhojpuri Literature
Bhojpuri speaking region, due to its rich tradition of creating leaders for building post-independence India such as first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad followed by many eminent politicians and humanitarian including second prime minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri, Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, Dr. Krishna Dev Upadhyaya was never devoid of intellectual prominence which is evident in its literature.

Bhojpuri became the basis of the development of official language of Independent India - Hindi, in the past century. Bhartendu Harishchandra, who is considered as the father of literary Hindi, was greatly influenced by the tone and style of Bhojpuri of his native region. Further development of Hindi was taken by prominent laureates such as Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi and Munshi Premchand from the Bhojpuri speaking region. Pioneer Dr. Krishna Dev Upadhyaya from Ballia district had devoted 60 years in researching and cataloging Bhojpuri folklore. Dr. H.S.Upadhyaya had written a book on the "Relationships of Hindu family as depicted in Bhojpuri folksongs" (1996). Together they have cataloged over thousands of Bhojpuri folksongs, riddles and proverbs from Purvanchal U.P, Bihar, Jharkand and Chotta Nagpuri districts near Bengal.

The Bhojpuri literature has always remained contemporary. It was more of a folkfare with folk music and poems prevailing. Literature in the written form started in the early twentieth century. During the British era, then known as the "Northern Frontier Province language", Bhojpuri adopted a patriotic tone and after the independence it turned to community. In later period following the low economic development of Bhojpuri speaking region, the literary work is more skewed towards the human sentiments and struggles of life.

In the present era, the Bhojpuri literature is marked by the presence of writers and poets like Anand Sandhidoot, Pandey Kapil,Ashok Dwivedi and others. In Maurititus, Dr. Sartia Boodhoo from the Mauritius Bhojpuri Institute has done volumes of work in following the Bhojpuri culture and language and documenting the indented labours arrival on the island.

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