LAHORE: Abandoning Punjabi language has been disastrous for us and this region, said an acclaimed Punjabi Poet Baba Najmi.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day Punjab Peace and Cultural Festival that concluded on Sunday. The event was organised at the Punjab Institute of language Art and Culture (PILAC) in collaboration with Punjabi Parchar and Consumer Drive.
“Punjabi culture is very diverse. It just does not involve the language but various other defining elements such as bhangra, luddi and geets that have been passed onto generations for centuries, and have kept the culture alive,” said Najmi.
All mother languages should be spoken on a priority basis, but our local culture should be kept alive simultaneously in the face of globalisation, he added.
“We consider Urdu as an intermediate language and through initiatives like this festival we (Punjabi language activists) do not aim to exclude Urdu from national narratives,” he said, adding that it was more important for them to speak the language more frequently rather than putting the focus on implementing Punjabi language as an official language.
Amir Riaz, a Punjabi publisher said that the Punjabi language should be taught at primary level coupled with high standard education system. The status of Punjabi language in particular has remained a matter of contention during British rule so there was a need to get out of the prejudices which were set during that time.
Parveen Malik, who works as a secretary for the Pakistan Punjabi Adbi Board – a literary body dedicated to promoting Punjab’s language and culture, said during a discussion session that given for how many centuries the language is being spoken in the region one could not deny or ignore its historical and cultural importance.
In the past, there have been several systematic steps taken towards wiping the Punjabi language from mainstream public life, he said, adding the language has remained persistently common. Parveen was of the view that there was a need to begin the initial education in Punjabi language in the province.
“When a child goes to school, he or she is already familiar with over 600 words, however, since the curriculum is taught in an alien language their basic educational process becomes difficult and out of place,” she said. The festival was inaugurated by PILAC Director Sughra Sadaf on Sunday at Punjabi Complex. The final day of the cultural event lured in scores of citizens from various circles of society.
Notable speakers opined that culture was a source of entertainment on one end whereas it also served as a tool to highlight the positive and negative aspects of the society.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2017.