Mathura: Under a combined onslaught of Hindi and English, the popular local dialect Braj Bhasha, identified with Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha, is facing extinction.
Lovers of Braj Bhasha and literature during a seminar Tuesday made a passionate appeal to the Uttar Pradesh and central governments for protecting and promoting the regional dialect.
They demanded that the dialect, spoken by more than two crore people in the districts of Agra, Mathura, Hathras and Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur and Dholpur in Rajasthan, be introduced as a language subject in schools and colleges.
Organised by the Jan Sanskritik Manch, the programme was attended by a large number of academicians, scholars, artists and cultural activists.
Speakers lamented the gradual decline of Braj Bhasha and a general lack of interest in promoting the rich cultural and literary heritage of the Braj region, identified with the mythology connected to Lord Krishna.
They said that while Bhojpuri, Avadhi, Maithili and various other dialects were being patronised and promoted, the loss of interest in Braj Bhasha, despite its rich literature -- written and oral -- evokes concern.
The participants demanded arrangements for teaching Braj Bhasha in the Braj region. At present, there is neither a Braj Bhasha Academy nor is All India Radio doing anything to promote this dialect.
Braj Bhasha and the Bhakti movement, or the devotional poetry trend in the 16th and 17th century, are considered synonymous.
The noted poets Soor Das, Ras Khan, and Amir Khusrau -- who wrote the famous "Chaap Tilak Sab cheeni" -- wrote in Braj Bhasha which continues to remain the main language of the Hindustani classical music compositions.
Culture activists said the dialect -- so rich in literature and folk- lore -- is being denied the opportunity to prosper.
"Saving Braj Bhasha would also help in conservation of the distinct cultural identity of the Braj area with numerous temples of Sri Krishna and Radha that attract millions of people from all over the world round the year," said Ashok Bansal, writer and culture activist.
The seminar was addressed by Jagdishwar Chaturvedi and presided over by Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority vice chairman Nagendra Pratap.
Speaking on Braj Sanskriti and our responsibility, Prof Chaturvedi said: "It is lamentable how literary and creative writers in order to promote Khadi Boli shunted out Braj Bhasha that enriched the Hindi language.
"The blind bard of Braj Soor Das, by scripting more than a lakh padas (poems), enriched Braj Bhasha and made Krishna Bhakti popular. Lovers of Hindi literature can come forward to protect and promote Braj Bhasha."