Motherly Treament of of Kurukh language by educated kurukh people, An introspection
By Chhotanagpur Cultural Association of Chennai.
Few days back, I asked a Bujhwair in Kurukh in the Internet to a forum KURUKHWORLD comprising of more than fifty members. Unfortunately I did not get a single reply, probably the members of KURUKHWORLD (all Kurukhs), appear to be either non conversant with the Kurukh language or they are not interested at all. Is it not a process of extinction of our beloved language “Kurukh” and are we not responsible for this situation? Today, we are facing this crisis in spite of number of kurukhars got literate / educated during the last few decades, while our ancestors (kurukhars), who were illiterate but certainly educated could realize the importance of preserving this language with pride within their limitations for more than thousand years. If this trend continues, it is obvious that this language will vanish form our community. You will not disagree with the fact that the new generation of kurukhars are neglecting / avoiding our language and use of kurukh language is restricted to a group of illiterate kurukhars residing in the villages only.
Is this modern education is an enemy of Kurukh language or Kurukh language is enemy of modern education? Can both exist together? The answer lies within us. Perhaps we are yet to realize its importance or negligent in using this language or not getting proper guidance from society or from government to preserve our kurukh language. No one is to be blamed except so called educated “The Kurukhars or Kurukh community” itself. We cannot blame Government alone, where our influence is negligible and we cannot question the Government’s commitment to preserve it for us or for the nation unless we show our own commitment for preserving this language by using it at home or within our community at least and pass on to our future generations. It will enable us to keep our self – esteem at high and thereby restore our identity.
Though our ancestors were illiterate but not uneducated Kurukhars, who could survive and preserve our identity and language during their journey from Sindhu Ghati to Rohtas Garh and then from Rohtas Garh to Lohardaga, Rajmahal and different parts of the country for more than 2000 years, inspite of many difficulties viz. external and natural challenges. During the Mughal rule, to save their dignity, even ladies started tattooing themselves and fought the Mughal forces by wearing the gent’s dresses. However, after the British rule, in independent India, with the advent of modern education, in less than a hundred years, educated kurukhars started neglecting their mother tongue language “Kurukh” in a step motherly fashion. Our ancestors had already anticipated this changing phenomenon. Hence, they tried to stop this phenomenon with their own emotional approach, which we find in their lyrics as given hereunder:
Ohre nagapuriar eka tera kadar ho enderge rajin suna nandar ho enderge deshan suna nandar. Kala bara kala bara hainre hainre, ohre nagapuriar-------------.
But with their emotional lyrics they could influence little to the educated kurukhars to preserve their culture, language, identity and so on. Hence, there is a crisis.
Let us introspect and analyze the possible reasons, which are responsible for this crisis and preventing our educated kurukhars to preserve our rich culture, traditions and our language. Right from birth, our educated parents have failed to provide social environment for their kids at their home or living area which could have enabled them to imbibe their cultural and social values. The reasons are both Social and Political.
A. Social Reasons:
1. Non-availability of written documents: Unlike other societies, kurukh community doesn’t have any script, written documents and literature by our ancestors.
2. Kurukh society is liberal and accommodative : Any one (other than kurukhar) comes in our society, our educated kurukhars instead of speaking kurukh among themselves start speaking their language and follow their traditions i.e. dowry system, corruptions, festivals etc. Even Inter-caste marriages are accepted by kurukh society easily and there is not even an iota of resistance against it.
3. Assimilation of the educated kurukhars with other communities : Educated Kurukhars easily assimilate with other communities and illiterate Kurukh society probably assumes, that it is the social requirement of the learned & employed people to speak vernacular languages, where they are residing and hence they neither oppose nor dare to do so.
4. Acceptance of vernacular language in their culture and traditions: Kurukh society accepts the vernacular languages in their culture and traditions i.e. in religious and cultural ceremonies.
5. Misconception: Educated kurukhars probably think that knowledge of the ancestral language will be a hurdle for their wards education, development and further advancement, which is not true as many South Indian people are proudly preserving their language and are much ahead of us as far as their development / advancement is concerned.
6. Kurukh language is useless: They probably think that their language is useless and may not be necessary for their development or living or their survival.
7. Kurukh language does not generate the employment: As the knowledge of kurukh language doesn’t give any opportunity for employment.
8. Civilization and Modern: In the name of civilisaton and modern, kurukhars living in towns and cities avoid kurukh language and prefer to speak local language wherever they live. Instead of feeling proud about our identity, they feel ashamed of talking in our ancestral language even with fellow kurukhar in the public places in order to hide their identity.
9. Effect of Media: By seeing the movies and T.V serials in vernacular language, probably we often try to accept and follow them in our own culture and tradition.
10. Neglect of our native / birth place: After getting lively hood in towns and cities, kurukhars visit their native place frequently at initial stage but after passage of few years slowly they discontinue this habit and finally loose all contacts and settle in isolation. They may be doing so either to avoid expenditure or avoid sharing their savings with their relatives at the cost of their rich culture and heritage.
11. Neglect of kurukh language by our religious organizations & schools: No religious organizations and educational institutions located in kurukh dominant areas, ever encourage the use of Kurukh language, culture and traditions. Religious leaders, Teachers or students prefer to talk, discuss and share their views in vernacular language even in Kurukh villages and they carry out their religious functions in vernacular languages.
B. Political Reasons:
1. Imposition the national language: After independence, Hindi has been declared as national language and it has been imposed on us. Unlike southern states, kurukhars are compelled to communicate with govt. officials in vernacular languages only, even in kurukh speaking region. As the govt. officials don’t require to communicate in kurukh language, where they have been posted. This has made the ancestral language redundant for communication in govt. offices.
2. National interest: For ease of official work & for the sake of national integration, tribal languages including kurukh are being suppressed directly or indirectly.
3. Media: For the economic reasons, they only concentrate in mass speaking vernacular languages only. Moreover we don’t have print / visual media of our own language which could have promoted our culture and language.
4.Promotion and Preservation :
It’s being an ancestral asset, essential to keep our identity and existence, each member of the kurukh community has the responsibility and are duty bound to promote and preserve it, irrespective of the fact whether he/she is literate or illiterate and educated or uneducated, to understand and realize its importance. The community can take the following measures for said purpose:
A. Social Measures:
- Like other communities, educated kurukhars, even at the higher echelons must learn to respect this language by learning the same, as age is no bar for learning nor it’s a crime to do so. At least, they can provide exposure of this rich culture, traditions and language to their children and create such an environment by participating in traditional/ cultural festivals, visiting their native / birth places where kurukh speaking people reside, speak kurukh at home and with kurukh neighbours. Only then, it will percolate down the line. We should be proud of kurukh language and for being kurukhars, just as shown in hindi film ‘Deewar’ where the lead actor values his mother more than the wealth and status. “Mere paas meri ma hai”. Similarly, we educated people and those at higher echelons must feel proud in saying, “I Know my ancestral language” even in public places coming out from anonymity.
- Probably kurukh society should become rigid and discourage the growing trend of inter caste marriages and safeguard our rich culture tradition and language. With this, language and cultural invasion can be curtailed.
- Religious organizations & Educational institutions must emphasize its importance and give due respect to this language over other languages. Just as foreign activists & nurses learnt kurukh for propagation of their religion, social & professional activities in the past, present activist must know kurukh and all functions/ celebrations in kurukh must be encouraged especially in kurukh dominant region.
- Research and development of the kurukh script & literature is required for easy accessibility and understanding and development of our language for education. The tribal language departments at universities may encourage and provide the research project on this subject.
- Just like southern states, where there are more than ten private channels for each states in their own regional languages, kurukh community should also initiate and start their own TV channel and telecast their program in their own language.
- In matrimonial, conversant of kurukh language should be given due consideration. To be our mother tongue, mother’s role is crucial and there is no substitute for it.
- Educated kurukhars must try to visit their ancestral place along with their children as and when time permits but atleast once in a year.
- During kurukh festivals, songs and dances must be promoted, and at Akhara, some code of conduct for an individual’s dignity/safety must be devised and implemented ensuring maximum participation.
- Just like Tamil restaurants i.e. SARVANA BHAVAN available world over, kurukh restaurant and dhaba should be promoted in the cities and towns, where tribal and traditional foods to be served in tribal ways with kurukh background lyrics and music.
- In the age of information technology, participation of more and prominent people concerned with our society is required to share & discuss their knowledge in language, cultural & traditional values in kurukh internet sites. This will help in easy accessibility of our past glorious culture & traditions to many, who have born and brought up in cities and have no access to this rich culture.
- Inclusion of Kurukh language in the school curriculums, media & T.V. channels, research etc could generate employment opportunities for the kurukhars who are studying Kurukh language. Kurukh people, who are working and contributing towards the development of the kurukh language must be encouraged and honored suitably.
B. Political Measures:
Political activist / leaders devise a Govt. policy and prepare an action plan for the upliftment of tribals and preservation of their cultural heritage as mentioned below.
1. Govt should ensure that people availing the reservation benefit by virtue of their scheduled tribe status must know their ancestral language. Educated kurukhars who can not nurture their language, culture and traditions should not have right to avail the reservation benefits under this category.
2. Infrastructure may be created at state level for encouraging tribal songs, dance and drama including kurukh and these programs may be considered for telecast in regional language channel periodically /occasionally.
3. National and State level cultural songs, dance and drama competition may be arranged and all logistic support should be provided for maximum participation.
4. State govt. should promote English rather than Hindi in the tribal dominant state just like Southern and North Eastern states. This will drive the tribal people towards their ancestral language and culture rather than Hindi media world.
5. State govt. should keep kurukh language in their curriculum at the school at primary level itself located in kurukh region.
Educated kurukh people and religious organizations are the torchbearer for the up liftment and development of our community. It is therefore, the educated kurukhs and the religious organizations of kurukhars, start nurturing it and stop ignoring and giving step motherly treatment to our language. In a democratic set up with continued efforts on education for better life, it’s a do or die situation and the onus lies on ourselves to promote and preserve our ancestral culture and language. We must ensure that it percolates down the line to the lower strata at town and village level for which we need to work selflessly, tirelessly failing which we are likely to create the elite Kurukh group without any identity which will further lead to creation of a big chasm between haves & have-nots, exploited & liberated and this will be a curse for our society. Social steps are always desirable over the political steps as political steps if implemented will be painful to the educated kurukh people who have already forgotten kurukh language and probably it will divide our kurukh community.
Come on Kurukhars, let’s think and act before it is too late, as the saying goes “it is better to be late than never”. It is worthwhile to mention here that there is a kurukh song saying “ Dinda ka samai danda nu jhunki hare samai kala laagi re hare samai kala laagi”. Further, “Time is precious which waits for no man” and “what worth is a modern life if modesty of the modern living has erased our identity from us, we then are living some one else’s life, not our own”.
1. Parents, neighbors, villagers and kurukh communities who taught us kurukh language by communicating with us in kurukh language are heartily acknowledged.
2. Shri Basant Kerketta of tribalzone.net and Shri Nemhas Ekka of kurukhworld.bravehost.com are sincerely acknowledged as their efforts in creating the net has given us an opportunity and platform to share and discuss with our fellow kurukh people residing in different part of world.
3. Lastly but not the least, we sincerely acknowledge our spouse, kids and friends who always respond us in kurukh at our home and giving us source of inspiration.