Post colonial Indigenous language and cultural change in Bangladesh
Sikder Monoare Murshed (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) [BIO]
The British Empire ruled the Indian subcontinent for almost 200 years (from 1757–1947). During this colonial period, there ware immense changes in the education and cultural sectors of the continent. The impact of the colonial rule also continued to be felt in the postcolonial period. During colonial rule, the changes had influenced immensely the indigenous people in particular. The changes, that took place in the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous groups of Bangladesh during the colonial period was mainly because of their conversion to the Christian religion and involvement in the urban workforce. But there is no doubt that changes in continue to take place in the language & culture of the indigenous people even the postcolonial era. The reasons behind these changes are mainly: destruction of the forests, unemployment, development of communication, interaction with the Bengalis for business purposes, educational expansion etc. It should be noted that, although much modification took place among the indigenous group of people, there was no involvement of the state. The only step has been taken that, a cultural institute was established to look after their language and culture. Regrettably, very little of their cultural life is to be seen in the mass media. In Bangladesh, although decision has been taken for the indigenous group of the people about five years back to allow them to obtain primary education in their own (mother) language, it is yet to take place in reality. The survivals of the indigenous language are now at stake because of the domineering influence of the state language, which is Bengali. Here, some examples of language and cultural changes are presented.
- Most of the indigenous of Bangladesh had their own language and words. Now, in their everyday life they use 30-40% Bengali words (they also used few English words).
- Shifting cultivation (Jum chas) was very related with indigenous life and culture of Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) . But in the year 1961 after building the kaptai dam (CHT), 70% of indigenous (CHT) bound to leave this special type of cultivation. As a result, changes have taken place in their folk culture, worship & festival, which were related with shifting cultivation.
- One of the indigenous of the Bangladesh is called Chakma. They had their own language & script, named ‘Ojhapata’. Now this script is not used, instead they are habituated to Bengali script.