Awadhi

Awadhi

Name of the language
 
Awadhi is the main dialect of Eastern Hindi branch of the Indo-Aryan group of languages spoken in Northern part of Indian subcontinent and its diaspora spread all over world. The term Awadhi appears to denote the language of Awadh (Oudh) but as matter of fact it is not confined to Awadh (Awdh) but also spoken outside Awadh e.g. Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad and some parts of Nepal
 
Geographical distribution
 
Awadhi is mainly spoken in the major part of Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh or Central Uttar Pradesh, the adjoining Terai area of Nepal, Caribbean countries and the lower stretch of the Ganges–Yamuna Doab. Awadhi is a language spoken by nearly 40 million people. The language is ranked 40th out of most-spoken languages in the world and is mainly heard throughout India, Nepal and Mauritius. Most speakers of the language speak it as a first, not second language. Awadhi belongs to the Indo-European language family which also include languages such as; Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, East Central zone and Central zone. The writing system used for Awadhi is usually Devanagari or Kaithi, although some people use a mixture of both.
 
In Awadh, it is spoken in the following districts almost entirely:
  • Faizabad
  • Lucknow
  • Barabanki
  • Rae bareli
  • Unnao
  • Bahraich
  • Gonda
  • Sravasti
  • Balrampur
  • Pratapgarh
  • Sultanpur
Excluding Awadh, the Language is also spoken widely in Lower Doab:-
  • Kanpur Urban
  • Fatehpur
  • Kaushambi
  • Allahabad
While it is spoken in these districts partially:
  • Lakhimpur Kheri (excluding western areas)
  • Sitapur (excluding western areas)
  • Ambedkar Nagar (excluding eastern areas)
  • Sant Ravidas Nagar
  • Mirzapur
  • Basti (excluding eastern areas)
In the Lower Doab, Awadhi is spoken with influences from Kannauji, Bundeli and Bagheli. Kanpur Urban excluding the westernmost areas of the district which speak entirely in Kannauji, Bundeli in southern parts of Fatehpur and Kaushambi districts, while Part of Allahabad district south of Yamuna speaks with the mixture of Bagheli and Bundeli
 
In Nepal, it is spoken in the following regions:
  • Lumbini zone
  • Nawalparasi district
  • Kapilvastu district
  • Rupandehi district
  • Rapti zone
  • Dang Deukhuri District
  • Bheri zone
  • Banke district
  • Bardiya district
In literary traditions
 
At present there is little literary endeavor in Awadhi, since most speakers have adopted western Hindi. Although today it is only considered a dialect of Hindi, before the standardization of Hindi, it was one of the two most important literary dialect of Hindustani (the other being Brij Bhasha). Awadhi has been one of the earliest Indo Aryan languages to be cultivated for literature. The oldest specimen of Awadhi is found in Ukti-vyakti-prakarana of Damodara Pandita who flourished during the first half of the 12th century. He wrote this book to teach Sanskrit through his mother tongue which was a kind of old Awadhi. The Sufi tradition which became established in India in the 14th century found a series of writers mostly Muslim who took a number of poems of medieval Hindu inspiration and wove them into poems in Awadhi, Maulana Daud was probably the first of them. The manuscripts of these poems in Awadhi are mostly Persian in character due to the Muslim influence existing at that point of time.
 
The Awadhi dialect of Hindi was enriched by a number of Sufi writers who wove some romantic tales of the folklore type into beautiful allegorical plays by way of elucidating the characteristics of Sufi doctrines. Maulana Daud is the author of the oldest work of this type Chandayan. But the greatest writer of this school was Malik M Jayasi whose poem Padumavati composed between 1520 to 1540 is a detailed Sufi allegorical treatment of the famous story of Padmini of Chitor.
 
The greatest Hindi writer during this period was Gosvami Tulsidas, born in U.P. sometime in 1523. He wrote his masterpieceRamcharitmanas sometime in 1574 in his native language Awadhi. It narrates the story of Rama and through it propounds the story of the Bhakti Cult. Tulsidas wrote many other devotional works of which Vinaya-Patrika (letters of Prayer) is most well known.
 
Important works in Awadhi are the Candayan of Maulana Da’ud, the Padmavat of Malik Mohammad Jaisi (1540 A.D.), the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas (1575 A.D.), Indravati by Nur Muhammad (1757 A.D.). Most of the Hindu literature, including Chalisas such as Hanuman Chalisha, are written in Avadhi. Most of the North-Indian Hindu literature, including Chalisas such as Hanuman Chalisha, are written in Awadhi.
 
In popular culture
 
Before 1990, most of the Indian movies were influenced by Awadhi language. Awadhi had also been used in various Hindi movies like Lagaan, Peepli Live etc., and Amitabh Bachhan used Awadhi in his many movies and songs like Holi Khere Raghuvira Awadh Me from Baghban and Ek Rahe Eer Ek Rahe Beer from Bhootnath.
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