[Urbanstudy] Punjabi Hindus and their distaste for the Punjabi language

Kabir Khan kabirkhan1989 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 20 22:21:22 CST 2017

*Punjabi Hindus and their distaste for the Punjabi language

While growing up in Punjab, I spoke in Hindi at home. Used Punjabi to
communicate with neighbors, maternal and paternal uncles and aunts,
grandparents. Were my parents Hindi speaking? No, they can very well read,
write and speak in Punjabi. As a matter of fact, their Punjabi is as good
as their Hindi. Why were we speaking Hindi at home?

Once in my childhood, a neighborhood aunty asked me why do I speak in
Hindi. My answer was that Hindi is our national language. She hit back
saying -Punjabi is your mother tongue. I had no answer for it. The memory
is still fresh.

Born in Hindu middle-class (technically it is a Hindu-Sikh family)
household, I moved between two languages. I learned Punjabi in 2nd
Standard. We spoke in Hindi at home. My family subscribed to Hindi daily-
Punjab Kesari. I was a fluent Hindi speaker and became a reader of it once
I learned reading and writing in Hindi in 5th standard. All this doesn’t
answer the question- why were we talking in Hindi at home?

To my understanding, the answer to this question is in the
post-independence history. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and many other
Hindu right-wing outfits believed in the idea- Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan.
This was promoted aggressively. This idea never played well in Bengal,
Gujarat, Maharashtra and in Southern states, even if they were Hindu
majority. Somewhere it resonated in Punjab.

During the independence struggle, Sikhs made a demand that there should be
an autonomous region kept aside for Sikhs in the North West of India. They
can practice their faith unhindered in a largely Hindu India.
Post-independence with the change in circumstances and a secular
constitution, this demand was re-worked. Demand for autonomous Sikh
province became the demand for autonomous Punjabi *Suba *(province). In the
1960s the union government agreed to the demand and merged Sikh majority
areas of Punjab and princely states of Eastern Punjab to create Punjab
province. Many Punjabi speaking cities and districts like Una, Kangra,
Solan and Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal were allotted to Himachal Pradesh and
Haryana. Both states have Hindi as their official language. Continued




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