Folklore of heroism and romance resound from the formidable monuments that majestically stand to tell the tale of a bygone era. The magic of vibrant Rajasthan – its rich heritage, colourful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, amazing variety lush forests and varied wildlife – makes it a destination nonpareil. Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum, with its relics so well preserved that it delights even the most skeptical traveler.
Rajasthan is where all the country’s similes and metaphors appear to have come together. Sand dunes, wooded hills and amazing lakes, palaces and rugged forts, men and women in colorful turbans and skirts, bustling towns and quiet villages, camels, elephants and tigers, harsh sunlight and the cool evening breeze – are all there in abundance. Whether it is the sand dunes or the massive forts and palaces, you will realize that there is no other place like Rajasthan. For a traveler who is interested in the history, culture and the lifestyle of the people of the Oriental world, Rajasthan is just the perfect destination. Unlike what its barren scenery suggests, you will find that Rajasthan is the most colorful and interesting place inhabited by humans. An exotic land, a dream come true for the Western world, Rajasthan was home to the Rajputs, the martial races of India known equally for their love of arts and architecture as well as valor and chivalry.
Languages of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is principally a Hindi-speaking region in its various dialects. Rajasthani comprises of five primary dialects – Marwari, Mewari, Dhundhari, Mewati and Harauti along with several other forms that we discuss here. These dialects have been derived as a distortion of the linguistic and orthographical peculiarities of the language with time. Rajasthani literature faced its worst period during the British Raj period. However, it is flourishing these days as hundreds of poets and writers have emerged who use the vernacular form of Rajasthani language as their medium. Rajasthan’s folk literature is rich and varied in its nature and exists in forms of the folk songs, so famous folklores, witty sayings and proverbs, riddles and much-treasured folk-plays known as ‘khayals’.
The most common language of Rajasthan is Marwari, spoken mainly in and around Jodhpur district. The mixed dialects of Marwari are also spoken in Barmer, Jalore, Pali, part of Nagaur district. In the east, it influences the dialects of Ajmer, Udaipur, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, to the south in Sirohi district and in the west, it affects the dialects of Jaisalmer district. Bikaner, Churu, Sikar and Jhunjhunu districts in the north are also influenced by Marwari while in the northwest, it is spoken with Punjabi influence in the Ganganagar district.
Mewari is actually the eastern form of Marwari used frequently to the southeast of the former princely state of Mewar, which comprised of Udaipur, Bhilwara and Chittorgarh districts, and its neighborhood. The dialect used in the western parts of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Thar and Parkar areas of the former Sind is called Thali in the north and Dhatak in the west. In Bikaner it is called Bikaneri while in the northeastern part of Churu, it is known as Bagri.
Malvi of the former Malwa covers parts of the Jhalawar and Kota districts. The Bundeli of Narsinghpur and central Hoshangabad, the Marathi of Berar and the Nemadi dialect of Rajasthani is spoken in north Nimach and Bhansawar. The Bhils communicate in Bhili, which is similar to Dungarpur’s and Banswara’s Bagria form of Rajasthani with the exception of slight variation in the pronunciation. However, the language structure for both of them is the same.
History of Rajasthani Language
Old Gujarati or Maru-Gurjar or Maruwani or Gujjar Bhakha (1100 AD — 1500 AD), ancestor of Gujarati and Rajasthani, was spoken by the Gurjars in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Texts of this era display characteristic Gujarati features such as direct/oblique noun forms, postpositions, and auxiliary verbs. It had 3 genders as Gujarati does today, and by around the time of 1300 CE a fairly standardized form of this language emerged. While generally known as Old Gujarati, some scholars prefer the name of Old Western Rajasthani, based on the argument that Gujarati and Rajasthani were not yet distinct at the time. Also factoring into this preference was the belief that modern Rajasthani sporadically expressed a neuter gender, based on the incorrect conclusion that that came to be pronounced in some areas for masculine after a nasal consonant was analogous to Gujarati’s neuter.
Most of the Rajasthani dialects are chiefly spoken in the state of Rajasthan but are also spoken in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. Rajasthani is also spoken in the Bahawalpur and Multan sectors of the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Tharparkar district of Sindh. It merges with Riasti and Saraiki in Bahawalpur and Multan areas, respectively. It also comes in contact with Sindhi from Dera Rahim Yar Khan through Sukkur and Ummerkot. Many linguists (particularly Gusain, 2000b and Shackle, 1976) agree that it shares many phonological (implosives), morphological (future tense marker and negation) and syntactic features with Riasti and Saraiki.