BHOJPURI IN MAURITIUS
Bhojpuri is a predominant language spoken in parts of northern-eastern India and Nepal. It is spoken in the western part of state of Bihar, the north-western part of Jharkhand, and the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh. Bhojpuri is also spoken widely in Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, and Mauritius. The variant of Bhojpuri of the Surinamese Hindustanis is also referred to as Sarnami Hindustani, Sarnami Hindi or just Sarnami and has experienced considerable Creole and Dutch lexical influence. More Indians in Suriname know Bhojpuri as compared to Guyana and Trinidad where the language is largely forgotten. Bhojpuri language is also spoken in Karachi, Pakistan.
Bhojpuri is part of the Eastern-Hindi languages which once extended from whole Bihar to Purvanchal. While the rest of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh slowly adopted the new Hindi standard (Khari Boli), the language remained strong in the areas between Patna and Benares. It is quite similar to Awadhi Language. Some scholars trace the literacy history of Bhojpuri from Siddha Sahitya itself, as early as 8th century A.D. Kabir’s contribution of ‘nirgun’ poetry to Sant Sahitya certainly qualifies as recorded literature in Bhojpuri in the 15th century. The nineteenth century has such works as Deviksaracarita by Ramdatta Shukla (1884), Badmasdarpan by Teg Ali Teg (1895), and Jangal me Mangal and Nagari Vilap by Ram Garib Chaube in the latter half of the nineteenth century. According to an article published in the Times of India, a total of 90 million people in India speak Bhojpuri. An estimated 70 million people in Bihar and 20 million people in Uttar Pradesh speak Bhojpuri as their first or second language. There are 6 million Bhojpuri speakers living outside of Bihar and Purvanchal. These areas include Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Uganda, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States. This makes the total Bhojpuri speaking population in the world close to 160 million.However, the official figures of the 2001 Indian Census are much lower, showing 33 million speakers of the Bhojpuri dialect under the Hindi language sub-family.
Bhojpuri dialects, varieties, and creoles are also spoken in various parts of the world, including Brazil, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, many colonizers faced labour shortages and were unable to obtain slaves from Africa due to the abolition of slavery; thus, they imported many Indians as indentured servants to labour on plantations. In Mauritius it was mainly sugarcane, tea and tobacco plantations. Today a wide majority of Mauritian of Hindu origin as well as many Indians in the West Indies, Oceania, and South America still speak Bhojpuri as a native or second language. Bhojpuri speaking people belong to central-eastern zone of India.
The Bhojpuri language has been heavily influenced by other languages in many parts of the world. Mauritian Bhojpuri includes many French, Patois Creoles, Hindi and English words, while the language spoken in Trinidad and Tobago includes mainly English words.
The Sunday Indian, Bhojpuri Association of India and Global Bhojpuri Movement have launched a worldwide movement for the Recognition, Promotion and Preservation of Bhojpuri Language, Art, Culture, Literature and society. Now it has been reported that this language has more than 200 million speaker’s world over.
Mrs Sarita Boodhoo a prominent Mauritian politician‘s wife has been striving for nearly three decades now, to help Bhojpuri attain a respectable standard. She terms the language as an intangible heritage which has contributed to the development of the country.
Mrs Boodhoo, a former inspector of the Private Secondary Schools Authority (PSSA) and the newly elected chairperson of the Bhojpuri Speaking Union (BSU) is also the author of many books destined to familiarise students with the Bhojpuri grammar.
Indian immigrants have brought many of their own styles of music and dance, along with instruments like the sitar and tabla. Mauritian-based Bhojpuri music has always been popular with people of Indian-descent, but is now gaining mainstream appeal through the work of artists such as The Bhojpuri Boys and Neeraj Gupta Mudhoo. Their fusion of bhojpuri lyrics, sega beats, and more traditional Indian, as well as Bollywood-style, music has won the hearts of the majority of Mauritians and given rise to major hits such as Langaroo (by The Bhojpuri Boys) and, more recently, Dragostea Din Te. Today Bhojpuri and traditional Sega, mixed together by some clever artists, have become part of the Mauritian musical culture. The rhythm, the dance, the beat and the hip movement resemble a lot, except for the language. Every Mauritian knows how to follow the beat of a good Bhojpuri song as well as a Sega song. It is in the blood.
Reference and acknowledgements:
- The Times of India,
- bhojpuri boys