Himachal Language & Dresses

LANGUAGE IS THE factor that sustains the current and flow of tradition and so the history of a language can, by inference be construed as the history of the culture it sprang out from, and gave expression to.
The common language of Himachal is known as Pahadi. It is now also referred to as Himachal Pahadi. It represents, not a specific area, but a whole group of dialects. Dr. Grierson in his book calls it a sub-branch of the Aryan language and says that it is spoken in most of the Himachal area. The area of this dialect extends from Bhadrawah in northern Punjab, to Nepal. Being a hill state (Pahadi) the local language of the area came to be known as Pahadi, although due to certain psychological factors the people in the area prefer to be called Himachali rather than Pahadiye.

The natives of the area were the Khasas, the Kiratas and the Kinnars. The word Kirat itself stands or a hill tribe. Traces of the Kirta language are still available in the Malana village of Kallu district. The Kinnars are still living in the Kinnaur area with all their traditions and customs. Traces of the Khasa tribe are also available, although this tribe has lost its original language. The Pahadi language shows traces of all three Khasa, Kirata and Kinnar influences. The Kirati and Kinnauri languages are, however, limited to their own areas. All the linguists now agree that all these dialects are closely connected with the Indo-aryan family of languages. When we look at the map of the state of Himachal, we can see two clear topographical areas.

1-The area is the central part of the Himachal state which includes Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba-Lahaul areas. The languages spoken in these areas belong to the Tibeten-Burmese family of languages.
2- The outer area which has two parts, one in the south east (the inner part) and the other towards the north-west (the outer part).

The inner or south eastern part includes the areas of Sinnaur, Solan, Simla, Kulu, Churah and Pangi. The outer or north western part contains the Bilaspur, Mandi, Himirpur, Una, Kangra and Chamba districts. Both the areas follow their own regional variations in their dialects. AJJ these linguistic forms show the basic traits of the Pahadi language and. they are easily identified from the neighbouring languages. The Pahadi language is spoken by over forty lakh people and although in the feudal past it used various scripts like the Persian, Kachi and Tankri according to Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar it now uses only the Devnagari script.

The people of Himachal love colour. Their dress patterns, follow the local climate the people of lahaul wear long gowns and trousers but their gowns do not have mandarin sleeves lime those of the Tibetans. They wear grass or leather boots. Their caps also indicate the region they come from. The Gaddi dress is very attractive. Their black sash is very helpful in carrying weight upon the back. Their women wear colourful homespun dresses and a thick scarf over their heads, which can also be used as a veil. They often carry little kids in the folds of their special sashes.

All these tribes are very found of silver ornaments. The women also wear strings of beads and corals. The Gaddi women especially, wear several rows of semi-precious stones and display little mirrors which are studded in the necklaces. The use of peacock feathers as ornaments shows the Muslim influence.

Their food habits are simple and change from region to region. Most tribal love to drink, although the higher castes consider drinking sinful. There are three main meals in the morning (Nuhari), noon (Dhupahari) and evening (Sanhiyalu). The wedding feast is known as Datayalu. A tradition meal consists of boiled rice, Roti, curried dal, butter milk and vegetables. In the hill area Roti made of barley or corn is popular. The Kangra people eat more rice. Sweet fritters (Gulgule) are made for birthdays and Savouries (Polu Pakodu) during the shradhas. There are special courses for special occasions.

Dhoti, Kurta, coat, waistcoat, turban (or cap), a hand towel upon the shoulders and a copy of the Panchang (astrological ephemeris) under his arm; this used to be the traditional attire of the Brahmin priest. The Rajputs wore tight fitting Churidar pyjamas, a long coat a starched turban with a special crown, pointed shoes, a flourishing pair of moustaches and a frown upon their foreheads. The Rajputs followed the Purdah system strictly. Their wives and daughters when they stepped out of the house, rode in curtained palanguins. They lived in close proximity to each other and had special guest houses, a little removed from their dwelling places, where special guests could stay. Women belonging to the Brahim and the Rajput families wore kurtas, salwars, long skirts, embroidered tops and red hear scarves with fold edging. The farmers and labourer classes only wore kurta, a loincloth and a cap. They put on long pyjama only on special occasions like a wedding or a festival. The new socoi-economic trends have changed all this and all class and castes now wear western style clothes, pants, coats and shoes, if they can affords it.