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Varhadi dialect

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Title: Varhadi dialect  
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Varhadi dialect

वऱ्हाडी Varhadi
नागपुरी Nagpuri
Native to India
Region Vidarbha region of Maharashtra; also southwestern Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and northern Andhra Pradesh
Native speakers
7.0 million  (1995)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 vah
Glottolog varh1239[3]

Varhadi is a dialect of Marathi spoken in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and by Marathi people of adjoining parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh & Andhra Pradesh states of India.

Vocabulary and Grammar

Although all the dialects of Marathi are mutually intelligible to one another up to a great extent, each dialect can be distinctly identified by its unique characteristics. Likewise, Varhadi replaces the case endings la (ला) & na (ना) of standard Marathi with le (ले), a feature it shares with neighboring Khandeshi dialect. So, mala (मला) (to me) of standard Marathi becomes male (मले) while tyanna (त्यांना) (to them) becomes tyahile in (त्याहिले) Varhadi. Despite being a dialect of Marathi, the vocabulary as well as grammar of Varhadi is significantly influenced by Hindi due proximity of Vidarbha to Madhya Pradesh. The common examples of Hindi words in Varhadi which are different than standard Marathi are:

Varhadi Hindi Standard Marathi English
Sīdhā (सीधा) Sīdhā (सीधा) Saral (सरळ) Straight
Buddhā (बुढ्ढा) Buddhā (बुढ्ढा) Mhātārā (म्हातारा) Old man
Pagalā (पगला) Pāgal (पागल) Vedā (वेडा) Mad
Aṅgūr (अंगूर) Aṅgūr (अंगूर) Drākśa (द्राक्श) Grapes

The grammatical changes in Varhadi differing from standard Marathi & closer to Hindi are:

Varhadi Hindi Standard Marathi English
Mī jā'un rāhilō (मी जाउन राहिलो) Maiṁ jā rahā hūṁ (मैं जा रहा हूं) Mī zātōy (मी जातोय) I am going
Mī ālī (मी आली) Maiṁ āyī (मैं आयी) Mī ālē (मी आले) I (feminine) came
Tujhāvālā pēn dē (तुझावाला पेन दे) Apnā pēn dē (अपना पेन दो ) Tuzhā pēn dē (तुझा पेन दे) Give your pen
Pānī ghēūn ghē (पानी घेऊन घे) Pānī lē lō (पानी ले लो) Pānī ghē (पाणी घे) (Please) Have water.

Apart from this, there are many words & phrases indigenous to Varhadi i.e. common to neither standard Marathi nor Hindi. For instance, to give stress on a request or an order, suffix zo (जो) (singular)/ (जा) (plural) is used like "Mahya porichya lagnale ye za (माह्या पोरीच्या लग्नाले येजा ) "Please attend my daughter’s wedding." Also, there are words & phrases maintained by Varhadi which were present in older Marathi (spoken 300 years ago or even prior to that) and have vanished from mainstream Marathi. E.g., in vocative case, aga (अगा) is said in Varhadi instead of ‘are’ (अरे) of standard Marathi. Another good example is the sentence construction of past continuous tense e.g. in Varhadi, it is said ‘Tho bahu abhyas kare’ (थो बहू अभ्यास करे) (He studied a lot) unlike ‘To khup abhyas karaycha’ (तो खूप अभ्यास करायचा) of standard Marathi.

In most of the Indo-Aryan languages (or even in Dravidian languages, for that matter), Sanskritized words of standard language get simplified in spoken dialects. Exceptionally, Varhadi has a few Sanskrit tatsama words for whom the standard Marathi counterparts are modified words (tadbhava shadba) such as in eastern parts of Vidarbha, snake is called sarpa (सर्प) unlike sāp (साप) of standard Marathi. The forms of Varhadi vary in different parts of Vidarbha and also, as per castes. The influence of Hindi increases as one moves towards Madhya Pradesh. E.g. in the parts adjacent to Madhya Pradesh, ‘zana padte’ (जानं पडते) (I have to go) is preferred over ‘zaa lagte’ (जा लागते), which is similar to Hindi ‘jana padta hai’ (जाना पडता है). Also, consonant ‘cha’ (च) (like in chook)(चूक), prevalent in Marathi but absent in Hindi, is often pronounced as ‘cha’ like in vachan (वचन). So, paach (पाच) (five) may be pronounced as paanch of Hindi. In the areas closer to Marathwada region of Maharashtra and on the contrary, distant to Madhya Pradesh, Varhadi is influenced by dialects of adjacent parts of Marathwada. One can easily recognize a person from Pusad, Digras or Umarkhed taluka of Yavatmal district by his sentence of present continuous tense. Somebody from this area will say ‘mee mandirat zaylo’ (मी मंदिरात जायलो) (I am going to visit a temple) instead of ‘mee mandirat zaun rahilo’ (मी मंदिरात जाऊन राहिलो) of other parts of Vidarbha. Similarly, the tone of speech in Chikhli, Mehkar, Deulgaonraja talukas of Buldana district is similar to that of nearby parts of Marathwada. If someone from this area speaks to a person from Nagpur or Wardha, the latter may get confused whether the former is from Vidarbha or Marathwada ! Likewise, Khandeshi dialect spoken in parts of Jalgaon district adjacent to Vidarbha is too similar to be differentiated from Varhadi of Malkapur- Shegaon belt of Buldana district.

Geographical Distribution

A native speaker of Varhadi dilect in Buldhana district

Varhadi is broadly defined as a dialect of Marathi spoken in Vidarbha region. However, technically, Varhad (Berrar) consists of only five districts (Amravati, Akola, Washim, Yavatmal & Buldana) of Amravati division (also known as western Vidarbha). The four districts viz. Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur & Gadchiroli of Nagpur division (excluding Nagpur & Wardha districts) are collectively called as jhadipatti (झाडीपट्टी) (literally, forest belt) and the dialect of Marathi spoken in this area is known as jhadiboli (झाडीबोली). Despite of lots of similarities, the major difference between Varhadi & Jhadiboli is, in Varhadi, retroflex lateral approximant (ळ) of standard Marathi is replaced by platal approximant (य) while in Jhadiboli, it is replaced by alveolar approximant (र). So, dole (डोळे) (eyes) of standard Marathi becomes doye (डोये) in Varhadi but dore (डोरे) in Jhadiboli. One can also differentiate Jhadiboli from Varhadi by its present perfect tense construction. For instance, when asked for a cup of tea, a waiter from a hotel in Bhandara district may answer as ‘chaha nase’ (चहा नसे) unlike ‘chaha nahi’ (चहा नाही) of Varhadi. The dialect spoken in Nagpur & Wardha districts is again a matter of dispute. Although, it is very much similar to Varhadi, many people claim that it is a distinct dialect, popularly known as ‘Nagpuri’ while a few claim that it is a blend of Varhadi & Jhadiboli.

Issues and Threats

In the era of globalization, many spoken dialects are on the verge of decline and Varhadi is not an exception. Varhadi has no official status. In Maharashtra, including Vidarbha, standard Marathi is used as a medium of instruction for education as well as language of communication in print & broadcasting media and government administration. Hence, Varhadi has become just a language of villagers. People in urban areas prefer to speak standard Marathi. Many qualified people feel ashamed of speaking Varhadi with a fear of being considered as a villager, uneducated or of lower class of society. In cities, Varhadi quotes are used to create humors. Also, many Vidarbhians who relocate for employment to other parts of Maharashtra (especially to Mumbai & Pune) try to speak standard Marathi.


Many authors from Vidarbha have provided status to Varhadi in their literature including Shri. Prakash Dattatraya Pathak, Gopal Nilkanth Dandekar, Uddhav Shelke & Pratima Ingole. Rashtrasanta Tukdoji Maharaj has narrated his abhangas in Varhadi so as to be understood by common people. Nagpur station of All India Radio broadcasts some of its programmes (mostly related to agriculture) in Varhadi while Jhadiboli Sahitya Sammelan is an initiative for development of Jhadiboli.


  1. ^ Varhadi at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Devanagari has been promulgated as the official script.
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Varhadi-Nagpuri". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

External links

  • "Resources in and about the Varhadi-Nagpuri language"
  • Varhadi at India9
  • Varhadi Language in Penn Libraries

See also

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