India is a country of rich cultural diversity where 22 officially recognised languages and over 1650 dialects are spoken across 29 states and 7 union territories, as in 2019. The 2011 Census of India last listed 1369 ‘mother tongues’, however, our country has been a witness to a great number of tongues over the centuries. One such distinctive and culturally rich language is Sindhi.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Sindhi”? Do you unconsciously think of a thrifty rich businessman, who is confidently entrepreneurial and known to hypnotise his customers, or who is simply fashionable, gives ‘bling’ a whole new definition and loves PDW (public display of wealth)? Or role models like Dada Vaswani who promote charity, kindness and sharing, coupled with a tolerant religious philosophy? Come discover the culture of the cradle-grounds of the Aryans and our pick: Sindhi.
The what, the where, the how many
The tongue of a Sufi-inspired community, Sindhi is the official regional language of the Sindh province, nestled in the south-eastern province of Pakistan. The Sindhi diaspora today, is estimated at 45 million speakers spread all across the world but primarily found in Pakistan and India. It has a Sanskrit-Prakrit prototype, with wondrously old literature and its roots can be traced as far back as 1500 B.C. It was also known to have eight scripts originally, but is written in two government-approved scripts today: Arabic-Sindhi and Devanagari-Sindhi.
A walk down history lane
The roots of Sindh can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, where historic urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were known to have thrived. Popular belief suggests that the ‘OM’ Mantra was first chanted here and the ‘Swastika’ symbol originated in the Sindh province as well.
In 1947, the province witnessed one of Indian history’s most tragic events as the country was partitioned to create the currently-existing Pakistan. Owing to a tumultuous history, Sindhi culture has always had to grapple with an identity crisis, deeply entrenched socio-cultural and political repercussions along with a perpetual sense of nostalgia amongst the millions of Sindhis who migrated across the border during the Partition.
In ‘Return of the Aryans’, Bhagwan Gidwani makes a subtle reference, “a generation that remains unaware of its roots is truly orphaned”. Preserving one’s heritage and language is proving to be extremely difficult in today’s day and age. Most Sindhi families also complain that the new generations are growing up to the sound of regional languages, with little or no knowledge of their own.
Furthermore, the Sindhi language has also had substantial influences from Urdu, Persian and Arabic over the years.
In spite of an almost nomadic background, they have immense pride towards their culture and least of all, a die-hard optimism; hence goes the popular saying “Hikro latey-t sava patey” (When one door closes, a hundred others open).
Content curated & SmartRead by: Team Vernac
Author: Alifya Thingna