|Gojri, Gurjari, Gujjari|
|Native to||India, Pakistan, Afghanistan|
|1-2 million (2021)|
|Takri, Perso-Arabic script, Devanagari|
Gujari (also spelt Gojri, Gujri, or Gojari; گُوجَری) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by most of the Gujjars in the northern parts of India and Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan. It is a member of the Rajasthani group of languages.
In India, the language is spoken by 1.3 million people (as of 2011) in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, with ethnic Gujjars elsewhere having shifted to the regional languages instead. In Pakistan, there are an estimated 400,000 speakers (as of 2018) in Azad Kashmir, in Gilgit-Baltistan (Diamer and Gilgit districts), in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (the Hazara region, and northwest up to Chitral District), and in Rawalpindi District in northern Punjab. The population in Afghanistan is scattered, and numbers at 15,000 (according to a 2015 estimate).
The government of the erstwhile Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir had recognized Gujari by including it in the sixth schedule of the state constitution.
Gujari folklore is very large, including songs, ballads and folktales, known as Dastans. Hundreds of folk songs have been recorded and published, including "Nooro", "Tajo", "Nura Beguma", "Shupiya", "Kunjhdi", "Mariyan".
A modern tradition of creative writing encompasses poets such as Sain Qadar Bakhsh, Noon Poonchi, and others. Others such as Mian Nizam ud Din, Khuda Bakhsh Zar, Zabih Rajourvi, Shams ud Din Mehjoor Poonchi, Mian Bashir Ahmed, Javaid Rahi, Rafiq Anjum, Milki Ram Kushan, Sarwari Kassana, Naseem Poonchi have also made remarkable contributions to Gujari through poetry, prose and criticism.
All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra run various Gujari programmes. Radio Kashmir Jammu, Srinagar, Poonch in India and seven radio stations of Pakistan and PTV air Gujari programmes and news bulletins accepted across Jammu and Kashmir. Books have been published in Gujari, including encyclopedias, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, on topics including dictionaries, grammars, nature, folklore, art and architecture, agriculture, sociology and research.
The National Academy of Letters, Sahitya Akademi, recognized Gujari as one of the major Indian languages for its National Award, Bhasha Samman, and other programmes. The Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages established a Gujari Department in its Central Office in the 1970s and published in Gujari. They organized seminars, conferences, etc. for the development of the Gujari Language. Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education made curriculum in Gujari up to Middle Standard for teaching Gujari in schools. The University of Jammu Council approved the opening of Gojri Research Centre in Jammu and University of Kashmir that have been awarded doctorate degrees on completing research projects on the language. In Pakistan administered Kashmir, the Gujari Academy has been established and postgraduate studies departments were set up in various universities and regional research centers.
In lower or plain areas of Pakistan, Gujjars have a major concentration in districts like Islamabad, Attock, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Lahore and Layyah. However, due to the revolution of time, the majority of them have forgotten or stopped speaking Gujrai. Gojri Bahali Programme (Gojri Revival Programme) has been launched in these areas to encourage Gujjars to restart speaking Gujari. Though this programme has a particular focus on these areas, it extends to the whole of Pakistan. Under this programme, Gujjars are being persuaded to readopt Gujari as their mother language. They are also being asked to mention it in the mother language column of various forms at educational institutions; when applying for computerised national identity card; and while filling out their particulars when seeking employment. Under this programme, the federal government will be asked to add Gujari in the mother language column of the population census. Similarly, the University of Gujrat will be asked to set up Gojri Department. The programme is the initiative of Muhammad Afsar Khan, a Kunduana Gujjar from Chak Dina village in Gujrat district. Kunduanas are a branch of Khatana Gujjars and trace their descent from Kandu, a famous Gujjar who lived during the reign of Mughal King Akbar or immediately before him in Gujrat district. His grave survives to date in Makiana village in Gujrat tehsil.
GOJRI BOOKS Published by NGOs