Uttar Pradesh, the heartland of India, is known for its Heritage, Culture and bounties of Nature. It is home to some of the greatest monuments, the most ancient city in the world, the seat of Buddhism and the colours of all faiths. Uttar Pradesh has absorbed many an immigrant culture and race within its borders and created a unique cultural heritage found nowhere else in the country. Its people belong to many religions and come from distant parts of the country but have had the latitude to recreate their own native cultures. Afghans, Kashmiris, Bengalis, Parsis and Punjabi immigrants settled here. Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists all found the freedom to practise their religions and pass it on to successive generations.
The state is a curious mix of the traditional and the modern. One of the least developed states in the country; it has some highly industrialised pockets. While it is secular, liberal and progressive, at the same time it is deeply rooted in social and religious traditions and taboos. While its diversity is its strength, it is often equally divisive although rarely parochial. Inherently secular in character, it is also the place where religious buildings are torn down by rampaging fundamentalists. The urban centres have grown into modern, chaotic sprawling cities and towns but the rural areas of the state are trapped in a time warp. Old rituals, traditional practices and archaic agricultural methods are still followed and little by way of progress and development has trickled down to the hinterland. That, in a nutshell, is Uttar Pradesh, a state that defies definition.
The people of Uttar Pradesh speak Hindi, Urdu, English and a host of Hindi dialects. Hindi and English are universally spoken and understood, while Urdu is mostly spoken in the Muslim strongholds of Lucknow, Faizabad, Allahabad, Aligarh and Agra.
Languages of Uttar Pradesh
Language of Uttar Pradesh is varied and rich. Hindi is the official language and Urdu is the second most widely spoken language in Uttar Pradesh. Various regional variations of Hindi are spoken in the various parts of this heavily populated state.
Hindi is the official language of Uttar Pradesh. The official Hindi speech, of ‘khari boli’ is considered to be the standard Hindi speech. Although it is not spoken in its strict form in the matters of everyday life, it is the official lingua franka of the state, and is extensively used in all official matters. Urdu is the second most widely spoken Uttar Pradesh language. Nine per cent of the entire populations use this language. A favorite among poets and writers, much of the original charm of this language of Uttar Pradesh is heartily retained by speakers. The use of a colorful blend of Hindi and Urdu called ‘Hindustani’ is considered very sweet and lyrical. It is represented in both the ‘Devnagari’ and the ‘Nastaliq’ script, and is the preferred language of a large section of the Uttar Pradesh’s population.
Uttar Pradesh has produced numerous poets and laureates both in Hindi as well as Urdu. For years these people have ruled the roost. Apart from that, Awadhi is another popular language. The language is the Lingua Franka of the masses, particularly rural population, in Oudh. The language is a hearty mix of Urdu and Khadi Boli. This language was propagated by popular Sufi poets of their time, particularly Amir Khusrau. Bhojpuri is another popular language in Uttar Pradesh. In fact according to the latest census report, Bhojpuri is the most spoken language in Uttar Pradesh after Hindi. The speakers of this language are mostly confined to 20 odd districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
‘Braj Bhasha’ is the language of Lord Krishna. This language is mostly spoken in regions around Mathura and Vrindavan. This language is considered to be very sweet and lyrical. There are other minor languages too such as Gujari, Haryanvi and Bundeli but these are extremely localized and confined to particular communities.
The languages of Uttar Pradesh mainly derive from the Prakrits of the Old Indo-Aryan, along with the influence of Persian in the medieval era. Linguists generally distinguish the terms “language” and “dialects” on the basis of ‘mutual comprehension’. The Indian census uses two specific classifications in its own unique way: ‘language’ and ‘mother tongue’. The ‘mother tongues’ are grouped within each ‘language’. Many ‘mother tongues’ so defined would be considered a language rather than a dialect by linguistic standards. This is specifically the case for many ‘mother tongues’ with tens of millions of speakers that are officially grouped under the ‘language’ Hindi.