How the bridge between Rural & Urban Uttarakhand has led to the decline of regional languages

How the bridge between Rural & Urban Uttarakhand has led to the decline of regional languages

We all remember the song “Pahadi Pahadi mat bolo main Dehradun wala hoon” by late Narendra Singh Negi Ji. The song took a jibe on those who feel ashamed of being referred to as Pahadi. But have you ever wondered from where this mentality seep from? Well, to be honest, it came from us. We who belong to the same community have chided those who aren’t as cool as us, don’t speak like us and are unfamiliar with the ways of the city.

Modern Vs Traditional Pahadis and the rift between the two:

Those who migrated from the hills to the resplendent valley of Doon either for settling here or for jobs feel obligated to comment on the lifestyle choices of the Himalayan highlanders. They make fun of their accent, comment on their choice of attire, their food habits and every minuscule thing that irks them.

Before jumping into conclusion and targeting the city-bred Pahadis. Let’s note that those who have their parents, relatives and their permanent home in hills do that too. Since they have been living in the city for quite a long time and have gracefully adapted to the city life, they think it’s uncool to speak like that.

Photo by Antonio Fantasia/Caritas

The hypocrite Pahadi:

Personally, I have seen many fellow Pahadis who have spent their childhood in the hills mock locals having a regional accent. Why such hypocrisy? Doesn’t your parents speak in the same way and when one speaks in another language they do have an accent.

Like we Indians have when we speak English. And it’s perfectly fine unless you are stranded on an isolated island and you fail to convey your message. If you want to correct someone then correct them for the use of words and not for their accent.

The ignorant Pahadi:

Most city-bred Pahadis, those who have been born and brought up in the city have no in-depth knowledge of their own culture. They haven’t found their own identity. Know nothing about their traditions, aren’t fluent in speaking their mother tongue. They are oblivious to the socio-economic and environmental issues related to the hills.

Since they are dangling like a thread between the two cultures. One which their parents follow and one that is in the ambiance of the city. They fail to understand the richness of their heritage. This could be because their parents haven’t passed on the knowledge of their culture, language, food and the stories of toil from the past.

Why people living in Urban Uttarakhand don’t know their regional languages?

A large fraction of the people living in the cities of Uttarakhand don’t speak and understand their mother tongue. This could be because of the following reasons:

1. Urbanization:

Cities like Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haldwani, Nainital are a melting pot of cultures. People belonging to various ethnic groups live here. Therefore, many Paharis adapt to the city’s lifestyle speaking the language that is commonly understood by all.

Take Dehradun and Haldwani for example where people don’t speak Garhwali, Kumaoni and know nothing about it. City parents don’t feel the need to pass on their culture to the younglings. They feel studying in highly prestigious English medium schools and communicating in their native tongue would be unacceptable.

2. Parents are Equally Responsible:

Many parents who have either faced issues or have been bullied for their accent by others don’t communicate in their mother tongue. They refrain from using the dialect at home. Hence, their kids don’t talk in the regional language and aren’t interested in learning it.

3. Hypocrisy:

Some wannabe cool guys and girls think it’s so uncool to speak their dialect. Even if they converse with their parents in Garhwali, Kumaoni, Jaunsari or other regional dialects of Uttarakhand. They still don’t want to associate them with it as they think people will look down upon them. So they act as if they don’t know how to speak it.

4. Migration:

Few people who migrate from hills to cities are so enamoured by the city’s glossy life that they want to keep in pace with it. They forget about their roots, culture, language and basically everything. They have wiped away the memories of the hills and their off-springs have to and so will their coming generations. This is how a regional language is mopped entirely from the clan.

Uttarakhand Map

Why is this a matter of concern?

Looking at the present scenario when the lively hamlets of Uttarakhand are turning into ghost villages. And people are abandoning the hills to build their nest in the encroached cities. That day is near when our dialects will be forgotten, like the regional festivals that most Pahadis don’t celebrate, and haven’t heard of.

When you look down on yourself and your roots, people will ridicule you. It’s only when you take pride in your upbringing, that people accept you because they don’t see the ‘insecure’ you. Feel happy to have an unbreakable bond with the mountains, that teach us to be strong, modest and independent. Aspire to be that!


Pragati Chauhan

I write because it keeps me sane. Mountains have taught me the art of surviving. These little pieces of writing and more are my way of expressing gratitude to my roots, my hills.

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