LANGUAGE IS THE factor that sustains the current and
flow of tradition and so the history of a language
can, by inference be construed as the history of the
culture it sprang out from, and gave expression to.
The common language of Himachal is known as Pahadi.
It is now also referred to as Himachal Pahadi. It
represents, not a specific area, but a whole group
of dialects. Dr. Grierson in his book calls it a
sub-branch of the Aryan language and says that it is
spoken in most of the Himachal area. The area of
this dialect extends from Bhadrawah in northern
Punjab, to Nepal. Being a hill state (Pahadi) the
local language of the area came to be known as
Pahadi, although due to certain psychological
factors the people in the area prefer to be called
Himachali rather than Pahadiye.
The natives of the area were the Khasas, the Kiratas
and the Kinnars. The word Kirat itself stands or a
hill tribe. Traces of the Kirta language are still
available in the Malana village of Kallu district.
The Kinnars are still living in the Kinnaur area
with all their traditions and customs. Traces of the
Khasa tribe are also available, although this tribe
has lost its original language. The Pahadi language
shows traces of all three Khasa, Kirata and Kinnar
influences. The Kirati and Kinnauri languages are,
however, limited to their own areas. All the
linguists now agree that all these dialects are
closely connected with the Indo-aryan family of
languages. When we look at the map of the state of
Himachal, we can see two clear topographical areas.
The area is the central part of the
Himachal state which includes Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti
and Chamba-Lahaul areas. The languages spoken in
these areas belong to the Tibeten-Burmese family of
The outer area which has two parts, one in
the south east (the inner part) and the other
towards the north-west (the outer part).
The inner or south eastern part includes the areas
of Sinnaur, Solan, Simla, Kulu, Churah and Pangi.
The outer or north western part contains the
Bilaspur, Mandi, Himirpur, Una, Kangra and Chamba
districts. Both the areas follow their own regional
variations in their dialects. AJJ these linguistic
forms show the basic traits of the Pahadi language
and. they are easily identified from the
neighbouring languages. The Pahadi language is
spoken by over forty lakh people and although in the
feudal past it used various scripts like the
Persian, Kachi and Tankri according to Dr. Yashwant
Singh Parmar it now uses only the Devnagari script.
The people of Himachal love colour. Their dress
patterns, follow the local climate the people of
lahaul wear long gowns and trousers but their gowns
do not have mandarin sleeves lime those of the
Tibetans. They wear grass or leather boots. Their
caps also indicate the region they come from. The
Gaddi dress is very attractive. Their black sash is
very helpful in carrying weight upon the back. Their
women wear colourful homespun dresses and a thick
scarf over their heads, which can also be used as a
veil. They often carry little kids in the folds of
their special sashes.
All these tribes are very found of silver ornaments.
The women also wear strings of beads and corals. The
Gaddi women especially, wear several rows of
semi-precious stones and display little mirrors
which are studded in the necklaces. The use of
peacock feathers as ornaments shows the Muslim
Their food habits are simple and change from region
to region. Most tribal love to drink, although the
higher castes consider drinking sinful. There are
three main meals in the morning (Nuhari), noon (Dhupahari)
and evening (Sanhiyalu). The wedding feast is known
as Datayalu. A tradition meal consists of boiled
rice, Roti, curried dal, butter milk and vegetables.
In the hill area Roti made of barley or corn is
popular. The Kangra people eat more rice. Sweet
fritters (Gulgule) are made for birthdays and
Savouries (Polu Pakodu) during the shradhas. There
are special courses for special occasions.
Dhoti, Kurta, coat, waistcoat, turban (or cap), a
hand towel upon the shoulders and a copy of the
Panchang (astrological ephemeris) under his arm;
this used to be the traditional attire of the
Brahmin priest. The Rajputs wore tight fitting
Churidar pyjamas, a long coat a starched turban with
a special crown, pointed shoes, a flourishing pair
of moustaches and a frown upon their foreheads. The
Rajputs followed the Purdah system strictly. Their
wives and daughters when they stepped out of the
house, rode in curtained palanguins. They lived in
close proximity to each other and had special guest
houses, a little removed from their dwelling places,
where special guests could stay. Women belonging to
the Brahim and the Rajput families wore kurtas,
salwars, long skirts, embroidered tops and red hear
scarves with fold edging. The farmers and labourer
classes only wore kurta, a loincloth and a cap. They
put on long pyjama only on special occasions like a
wedding or a festival. The new socoi-economic trends
have changed all this and all class and castes now
wear western style clothes, pants, coats and shoes,
if they can affords it.