The Curious Case of Bihari Language and People: Part 3

September 27, 2012

A few months ago I had written a couple of posts on this theme. I am now continuing that thread with this post. Here are the links to the prior ones. Not mandatory to read these first, just clarifying.


“ऊ देखिये, ऊ मऊग के, पीयर बुस्सर्ट पहिन के कईसे कुदक रहा है, बेंग की तरह भोरे-भोर! लगता है भोरा गया है की ऊ दिन कैसे उसको लंगटे कर ओकर कपार फार दिए थे हम.”

The sentence above is written in Devnagari and at first sight would seem to be Hindi both in the script and the meanings. However, I can bet that those non-Biharis reading this piece would hardly be able to figure out the meaning. So let me translate this in simple English.
“Just see that effeminate character, early in the morning he is jumping around like a toad in his yellow shirt. I think he has forgotten how I had stripped him that day and broken his skull.”
Let us  examine some simple words first. बुस-सर्ट  is the adaptation of bush-shirt. पीयर is the Biharification of peela, yellow. Like उज्जर is for white (=ujala), करिया is black (=kaala). Roll the words पीयर, उज्जर and करिया over your tongue and see how easy these are to pronounce and how “colourful” they  sound as compared with peela, ujalaa and kaala! Did I not tell you in my earlier posts that Bihari was indeed a very colourful language?
कपार फारना (break someone’s head) is a popular expression which is used even for the smallest of injuries caused the the vanquished. (Refer an earlier post of mine). कपार is an adaptation of the Sanskrit kapaal, however please do not break your heads trying to link कपार फारना with kapaal-bhaati made popular in the last decade by Swami Ramdev.
Bihari has its share of puns too. See the usage of भोर in the sentence. The former भोर (भोरे -भोरे , very early morning) is the Bihari adoption of the Sanskrit “bhor” as in pratahkaal. However the other भोर (भोरा) is the localization and simplification of bhula (dena). To forget. This is one explanation. The other plausible one is that once fresh morning dawns a Bihari forgets the unpleasant happenings of the previous day. So morning is the time to for forgetting.
बेंग is another interesting word. Of course it means a toad. I do not know what the Bihari word for frog is. (in fact I have difficulty myself in telling the difference between a toad and a frog in English even. बेंग to me not only brings to life the jumping of this creature but also in some ways imitates the sounds it makes while it is jumping around! The word for dog, कुक्कुर, is another interesting one. I wonder what the etymology of this word is. Enlightened readers, please throw some light!
“लंगटे करना” is a major pastime for the Bihari male. No, no, I am not saying that an average Bihari is any more lecherous than an average Indian. However this means to a Bihari is stripping someone’s of his dignity, and dignity is something a Bihari strongly cherishes.
And now for the most interesting word.
मऊग is an interesting word essentially used to deride anyone who has even a trace of feminine characteristics. The Bihari male is supposed to be macho, a MAN. The Bihari word for this is मरद. मऊग he cannot be. Of course मरद is the Biharification of Persian word “mard” which means a male. However, the opposite of मरद is not मऊग, but मउगी. Between मरद and मउगी lies the मऊग. As if in a no-man’s land. Or a no-woman’s land for that matter. For a male to be a man is of utmost importance. There is even a gentle reproach for a man who is not displaying courage. “मरदे ते नाहीं !”. (You are not man enough!). This phrase, by the way, is not pan-Bihari I think used only in Bhojpuri. It was just to give you an idea of the concept called मरद!
The other gender pairings are मरद-मेहरारू (husband-wife), छौंरा -छौंरी   (boy- girl). लौंडा and लौंडी (boy and girl) is popular across the Hindi speaking belt, however not so much in Bihar I think. Correct me if I am wrong. However, this bring me back to the मऊग. लौंडा’s dance is what the मरद of a baraat-party watch through the night in the villages. And invariably the लौंडा  was a मौग who was a clean-shaven young male wearing a false bosom wriggling his hips (and the false bosom of course) to the raunchiest of lyrics to keep the baraatis awake while the marriage was solemnized through the night. This certainly was the high point for any baraati till the 1970’s. Subsequently I have not been to a village wedding though I heard that real female dancers imported from Banaras had replaced the laundas.  I do not know what is the status now.