Celebration of World Hindi Day on January 10-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri
The word ‘Hindi’ has been originated from the Persian Word ‘Hind’ which means the land of Indus River. It is a descendant of Sanskrit. World Hindi Day is glorified on January 10 to mark the anniversary of First World Hindi Conference which was organised in 1975 and inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Prime minister of Mauritius was the Chief Guest. It was attended by 122 delegates from 30 countries. It was organised to promote Hindi Language worldwide. Since 1975, the World Hindi Conference has been organised in various countries like India, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, United States etc. World Hindi Day was first observed on January 10, 2006 by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to promote Hindi Language and since then it is celebrated on January 10 every year. National Hindi Day on the other hand is marked on September 14. It was in 1949 that the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Union. Devanagri script came into existence in the 11th century. Hindi is the first language of about 430 million people around the world. Hindi and Nepalese share the same Devanagari script. A lot number of English words are derived from Hindi as chutney, loot, bungalow, guru, jungle, karma, yoga, avatar and so on.
The earliest form of Hindi was called ‘Apabhramsa’ which was an offshoot of Sanskrit. The poet Kalidasa wrote ‘Vikranorvashiyam’ in Apabhramsa in 400 A.D. ‘Prem Nagar’ is thought to be the first book to be published in Hindi. It is the fifth most spoken language among the total languages spoken in the world. It is spoken in many countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, USA, UK, Germany, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Guyana, Mauritius and so on. There have been writers like Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupta, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Seth Govinddas, Mahadevi Varma who did important contribution to advance Hindi as an official language.
It is a matter of joyful indulgence that External Affairs Ministry, Government of India and the Government of Fiji will solemnise World Hindi Conference in 2023. Fiji is hosting the conference as English, Fijian and Fijian Hindi are the three official languages of Fiji and Indians settled over there speak Hindi. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar declared that endeavours are afoot to recognise Hindi as an official language at the United Nations. Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation was of the view that use of Hindi in national practice is necessary for the progress of the country. Sumitranandan Pant, a reputed Hindi poet once said “Hindi is the simplest source of our nation’s expression”. “Hindi is the soul of Indian culture”, said Kamalapati Tripathi. It is appreciable to know that of all the languages spoken on the planet, Hindi is the fifth most widely spoken language. Words like ‘Bada Din’, ‘Surya Namaskar’, ‘Acha’ (Good), ‘Bacha’ (Child) were added to Oxford Dictionary in 2017 which speak of the significance of Hindi language.
Infact, Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language and official language of nine states and three Union Territories. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India, So Hindi can be truly called a language of unity and harmony. The theme of the World Hindi Day to be celebrated in 2023 is “to make Hindi a part of public opinion, although it does not necessarily mean that one has to leave their mother tongue”. It has been said very aptly that “our Nagari is the most scientific script in the world”
In fact, Hindi is the most perfect and complete language. It consists of 11 vowel sounds and 33 consonants which makes it to forty four. Human body can also produce forty four sounds. So it is a complete language. Even English language has 26 alphabets and the language experts have invented diphthongs, tripthongs and monophthongs to create forty four sounds. So Hindi should imbibe a passion for this language among the individuals. To promote and create involvement of the public, various events are organised by Hindi Nidhi Foundation, National Council of Indian Culture, Indian High Commission, Sanatan Dharam Maha Sabha and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Culture Cooperation. World Hindi Day is observed in different nations every three years. There is a huge list of pioneer Hindi authors, poets, short-story writers and playwrights who have made a remarkable impact on the promotion of Hindi literature and Hindi theatre. Jai Shankar Prasad, Suryakant Tripathi, Sumitranandan Pant, Munshi Prem Chand, Mahadevi Varma, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Dharamvir Bharati, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amar Goswami, Jainendra Kumar, Agyeya, Maithili Shran Gupta, Krishna Sobti, Nirmal Verma, Mohan Rakesh, Kamleshwar, Yashpal etc are some of the writers in the realm of Hindi who have contributed laudably for the advancement and promotion of Hindi language and literature.
Modern Hindi literary figure Phanishwar Nath Renu took it to new heights and got Padma Shri award in 1970. ‘Maare Gaye Gulfam’ – a short story by Phanishwar was dramatised into a film titled “Teesri Kasam” which is famous to this day. In the same way, Amarkant, a Jnanpith Awardee graced Hindi literature in a number of ways. The list is long and never ending.
There is a need to commemorate International World Hindi Day globally. It is worth cherishing to keep in mind that Alka Puri, mother of the Autho Jaswant Singh Puri and wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri was M.A. Hindi, B.Ed. who used to teach Hindi and Sanskrit to students free of cost to promote Hindi and Sanskrit. She was also offered to serve as a lecturer in Hindi Department of Punjabi University during the tenure of Vice-Chancellor Inderjit Kaur Sandhu but she humbly refused the offer because her son Jaswant was at a very tender age. It is well known that she also showed her excellence in writing speeches on valedictory functions in Hindi and won much appraisal from professors and her colleagues. It is worth realising that Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and Alka Puri had been very close to Patiala’s Bibi Amtus Salam since Dr. Ajit Singh Puri was her personal consulting physician. Alka Puri had always been at Bibi Amtus Salam’s beck and call in writing and correction of Hindi correspondence. Jaswant Puri often felt relaxed in Bibi Amtus Salam’s lap since he was a teeny-weeny child.
Let the day be celebrated with soul and heart since it highlights the cultural background, significance and richness of the language and promotes cooperation between different countries and regions.
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.) who was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal, awarded with Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri was the wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.
(The views expressed are personal)