Hindustanis


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Related to Hindustanis: Hindustani language

Hindustanis

 

in Russian, a term used to designate the main population of Hindustan, which includes the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the city of Delhi, the eastern part of Rajasthan and Haryana, and the western part of Bihar.

Hindustanis can be divided into many regional groups, which share a common ancestry and have similar languages, cultures, and customs; the boundaries between the groups are not clearly defined. The various groups of Hindustanis are united by a single literary language, Hindi; they speak numerous dialects of Hindi, including Khari Boli (from which literary Hindi developed), the Western Hindi dialects of Bangaru, Braj, Kanauji, and Bundeli, and the Eastern Hindi dialects of Awadhi (Avadhi), Bagheli, and Chhattisgarhi. The groups are gradually being consolidated into a single ethnic community. According to a 1975 estimate, there are approximately 170 million Hindustanis.

The Hindustanis’ principal occupation is land cultivation: nearly 75 percent are engaged in agriculture. The main crops are wheat, millet (bajra and jowar), barley, and legumes. In the south, the principal crops are rice, oil-bearing plants (Brassica campestris, mustard, and sesame), sugarcane, and cotton. Some Hindustanis are industrial workers. Handweaving is widespread and includes the manufacture of cotton cloth (especially muslin), cotton goods (saris and dhotis), carpets (daris), and art silk fabrics. Hindustanis produce pottery and stamped and incised vessels.

In the countryside Hindustanis live in pisé huts with roofs of straw or leaves; urban dwellings are made of stone. Clothing is of the type found throughout India: men wear a loincloth (dhoti) or narrow, white trousers; a shirt; and a kind of long tunic buttoned up the front. A turban or white cap is worn on the head. Women wear a sari and blouse.

Most Hindustanis profess Hinduism. Caste distinctions have been retained, particularly in the rural areas.

REFERENCE

Narody Iuzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963.

S. I. BRUK