Bhojpuri is not the only language in Bihar

The recognition of Bhojpuri as a National Language in the monsoon session of the parliament and Chidambaram’s promise to do so has made people sit up and take notice that Bihar has lots to offer linguistically.

The growing popularity of regionally flavored mainstream movies like Ganagajal , Apaharan and Gangs of Wasseypur to name a few, have also added to this growing curiosity.

GOW Poster_Bihar_Power

“Maharashtra’s language is Marathi, Gujarat’s Gujarati, so it’s a popular conception that Bihar’s language will be Bihari”, says Pransu, an NRI who traces his roots to Bihar.

In a country as culturally rich and diverse as India, languages change after every 10 kilometers or so. In this milieu, the languages of Bihar have become restricted only to that state. Non-natives don’t understand the difference between the different languages and thus club them together as ‘Bihari.’

But Bihar has five main languages which are Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Bajjika and Angika. “Santhali too was a language of undivided Bihar but was given an official status only after Jharkhand – where it is predominantly spoken -was carved out of Bihar”, says Deepak Parvatiyar, a journalist.

All these languages have speakers also residing in the neighboring states of Uttar Pradesh,

West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. The large number of people who migrate from the state has also helped in spreading the languages to other countries like Nepal, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mauritius too.

Maithili has 50 million speakers while Bhojpuri, which happens to be third most spoken Indian language outside India, has 60 million speakers. Angika has 30 million speakers whereas Bajjika has 11 million speakers in India and 2 lakh in Nepal. Magadhi has another 20 million speakers.

“In India, to get ones’ due, one has to be violent”, says Tejakar Jha, a historian when talking about the struggle to get Bhojpuri recognized as a national language. “After Maithili got recognized as one of the languages under 8th Schedule, demand of recognition for Bhojpuri was raised and since it has the number in terms of population and is dominant, they are going to get it”, he adds.

All the languages have different origins with Maithili, Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya having a common origin. Bajjika and Angika are dialects which have their origin in Maithili. Bhojpuri and Magadhi also have a common origin which is visible in the usage of words, phrases, idioms and the aggressive tone of the language.

Creole, a dialect of French is actually a mixture of Bhojpuri and French.

Biharis, though fear for the existence of their languages.

Languages of Bihar

According to Deepak, “It’s not just the usage of Hindi but the new computer language is killing the regional dialects. Besides, as was the case of Magadhi (Magadhi was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of Hindi in the 1961 Census), such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.”

Nitin Chandra, a Bhojpuri film-maker recently wrote a letter to Radio Mirchi (Patna) chastising them for the fact that in other states they play the regional songs in the local language and asking them to play Bhojpuri and Maithili songs too.Tejakar, on the other hand blames modern education, “Today’s children find using English and/or Hindi to be a symbol of modernity. Schools also ask the parents to talk to the children in English or Hindi rather than the mother tongue. The children are not aware and at the same time discouraged to use these languages.”

Ashish Sinha, a native, though, feels positive about the future of the language, “Languages like Bhojpuri are spoken with a lot of ease and pride in Bhojpuri-spoken areas. Also, people who migrate to other states and countries take a lot of pride in speaking their native language.” Rashmi, another native though believes that the growing popularity of the Bhojpuri film industry and film actors has lead to a wider audience for the languages.

Be it the growing popularity of the film industry, recognition of Bhojpuri, or the Super 30, the state is now in the limelight again, but for positive reasons.

For the times they are a-changing!

Writer is a student at SIMC

Join the Conversation


  1. says: raman

    It is the Hindi politicians who made this Bhojpuri , Maithili to be labeled as Hindi so that they get power and rule the country.

    Bhojpuri have its right to to be declared as a Scheduled Language.

    I request Bhojpuri , Maithilik Speakers to stop watching Hindi movies and patronize and recogonise thier mother Tongue Language.

  2. says: Anil Jagroep

    remember that also bhojpuri is spoken in Guyana and Suriname (South-America) by over half milion people, where lots of indian peoples live after they have been ‘moved’ from india to these countries.

    1. says: Sen

      Remember that ” Tamil” is also spoken in
      Suriname ,
      Trinidad & Tobacco

      South Africa



      where lots of TAMIL peoples live after they have been ‘moved’ from South-India to these countries by colonial Rulers like British, French and Dutch


      1. says: Malini

        Nope In Fiji regardless which part of India our ancestors came from , we all speak the same language – known as Awadhi even though some outside people class it as Bhojpuri . Mostly We call it Fiji – Hindi – which is a mixture of Awadhi and English language simple. And that’s our official language apart from (Native Fijian and English of cos)
        Further more even though we have people from the South Of India (Malaya. Tamil Telugu decent , but commonly no one speaks Tamil or Telegu etc . We do know and understand few different languages . But Fiji Hindi aka Awadhi and English is spoken by one all Indo – Fijians. Cheers

  3. says: Nitin

    Make Mithilanchal to save the language, culture, and ethnicity. Start teaching maihtili, bhojpuri, magahi, angika and bajjika in respective areas of Bihar in government schools. Parents need to talk to their kids in their mother tongue not in hindi and english.

  4. says: Atony

    with wide usage in India and abroad It should be recognized and included in the schedule.The politician in Delhi includes Bhojpuri Maithili,Santali and other languages as claim that it is the largest language spoken in India and also to claim official language status.If any one deducts other minor languages and also urudu Hindi will be only a language spoken by not even ten crores of people.

  5. says: udit

    Maithili angika vajjika magahi bhojpuri awadhi bagheli chattisgarhi khortha are sister languages. They all emerged from magahi apbransha. People and culture of all these areas are almost same.

    Whereas khari boli hindi emerged from shoursani apbransha. Khari boli hindi braj bundeli haryanavi bagri are sister languages. People and culture of these areas are almost same and differeng from bihar and most of uttar pradesh. Our leaders imposed hindi in school administration and everywhere. Now our langusges are dying urban people have given up these languages. Our bihari words and vocabulary are vanishing .

    Bangla and oriya are close to bihari languages. Punjabi is much close to hindi than bihari languages. Bangla spoken in dhaka is different from kolkata. But they are same languages because they have something common. Thus bhojpuri maithili and awadhi has some differences but they all belongs to same language family and people of these areas are of same stock. A khari boli delhiwala is not bihari how hindi could be a state language of bihar and uttar pradesh.

  6. says: aman kumar singh

    bhojpuri is my mother tongue it must be added in constitution for the people who speak bhojpuri and love to have it

  7. says: aftab

    I think the writer has committed mistakes as a student of History,I would like to correct you sheikpura,Lakhisarai,Jammui,Munger Bhagalpur and Banka has been shown as a Maithili speaking areas wherease the fact is that it is Magadhi or Magahi speaking areas, Also Angika is a dialect of Magahi and not Maithili.

  8. says: PRINCE

    गलत कहा है अपने , भारत का कोई भी एसा राज्य नहीं है जहा ४/५ भाषा न हो
    आप मराठी को तर्ज देकर महारास्ट्र देते हो और भोजपुरी को तर्ज नहीं देते ना कोइ राज्य का गठन करते हो उसे ३/४ राज्यों में बाट देते हो तो गलती किसकी है |
    भोजपुरी मूल रूप से बिहार/यूपी/झारखड/कुछ एमपी एरिया / CHHATISHGHAD तो फालतू आर्टिकल क्यों लिखते हो पहले सोचो फिर लिखो

  9. says: A Bengali

    Firstly all the speakers of Maithili , Magahi , Bhojpuri , Angika , Bajjika languages have to seperate from hindi to save their languages and obviously they have to continue their actual mother tongue with their next generation . Don’t forget also that Maithili have their own Tirhuta script , Angika has Angalipi script and others have Kaithi script , not Devnagari . Hindi is obviously a good language but at first you have to respect your mother tongue .
    Jai Hind

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