Our languages are inextricably linked to our identity. Once words are lost, we lose a part of our history and worldview.
Kharia is one of the Adivasi languages spoken by 2.9 lakhs people in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Nepal, and Andaman Islands. It belongs to the Kharia-Juang branch of Munda language, from the Austroasiatic language family, a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia.
Due to global monoculture and dominant world languages, the new generation which has migrated from their villages are no longer living in nature the way their ancestors used to. This is leading to a loss of traditional environment knowledge enciphered in certain phrases and words.
A modern-day Kharia person who is not living close to their land is able to converse in the phrases you see on the YouTube Kharia tutorial channels, but what about the loss of vocabulary which has stored the information of living with nature?
Here are 10 words which Kharia people can revive and use in their daily lives:
Khi’rom’ - River
Ki’nir’ - Forest
Je’pung - Straw
Uslo’ - Land
Po’da’ - Village
Lo’reng - Moon
Tii’rim - Clouds
Sincom’ - Stars
Pethiya - Local Market
Be’do’ - Sun
As a section of the Adivasi population migrates to cities leaving behind forests and farms, it is inevitable that these basic words which were once used daily have begun vanishing. This fact not only applies to Kharias, but also to all other Adivasis who have moved away from villages. Every Adivasi language is unique and carries different ways of infusing meaning to words. It is up to the youth of the Adivasi communities to revive and popularize these forgotten words.