The magic of Mattur – Where Sanskrit thrives

Mattur & Hosahalli are two of the very rare villages in India where Sanskrit is spoken as a regional language.

Mattur & Hosahalli are two of the very rare villages in India where Sanskrit is spoken as a regional language.
Mattur & Hosahalli are two of the very rare villages in India where Sanskrit is spoken as a regional language.

Two villages in India that still uses Sanskrit in day-to-day communication

Mattur is a village in Shimoga district near the city of Shivamogga in Karnataka state, India, known for its usage of Sanskrit in day-to-day communication, although the general language of the state is Kannada. Mattur has a temple of Rama, a Shivalaya, Someshwara temple, and Lakshmi Keshava Temple. Mattur’s twin village, Hosahalli, shares almost all the qualities of Mattur. Hosahalli is situated across the bank of the Tunga River. These two villages are almost always referred to together. Mattur and Hosahalli are known for their efforts to support Gamaka art, which is a unique form of singing and storytelling in Karnataka. These are two of the very rare villages in India where Sanskrit is spoken as a regional language. Sanskrit is the main language of the majority of the 5,000 residents of this village situated around 8 km from Shimoga.

For the last 600 years, the Sankethis, a community of Brahmins that migrated from Kerala have been living together and leading an insular way of life. Everyday life revolves around Sanskrit and expressions such as ‘Aham gacchami‘ ‘I am going’ and others, can be heard on the streets. Enter any home in Mattur, and you will be greeted with Bhavatha nam kim (What is your name?), Katham asti (How are you?), and Coffee VA chaayam Kim ichchhathi Bhavan (What will you have, coffee or tea?) in eloquent and poetic sounding Sanskrit. Since, Sanskrit is heard spoken by the ordinary person clad in Jeans using a mobile, riding motorcycle, these two villages have become a unique and brilliant example of the synthesis & coming together of the ancient and the modern. In short, it isn’t as though speaking in Sanskrit makes one ancient or that the language should be considered as dead as many of the so-called intellectuals seem to voice.

The Sanskrit language is the language of an advanced civilization that most probably was lost & buried in the winds of time.

In Mattur, young boys are taught Vedas from the age of 10 at school along with English, ancient traditional art. Though Mattur is a Sanskrit-speaking village, it is not detached from the modern world which is proved by the fact that almost every house in this village has an IT professional and many of them work abroad.[1]

References:

[1] Karnataka’s Mattur: A Sanskrit-speaking village with almost one IT professional per familyNov 23, 2014, ET

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