When the Asian (Maharashtrian) Americans, who have made Valley of the Sun as their home, hear their children recite poetry in their mother tongue, ‘Marathi’ while studying at ‘PMMM Vidyamandir’ (the local Marathi school being run by the community volunteers), their hearts get filled with joy and pride! PMMM stands for Phoenix Metro Maharashtra Mandal (association). The name, Vidyamandir, literally means the temple (mandir) of education (vidya).
Marathi is the language with a rich past and expanding presence! This is the language which was not only spoken but also had a script as early as 739 AD; this was the language that had attained a venerable place in the courts of the rulers and hearts of the saints in 12thcentury onwards in western parts of India; this was the language that Father Stephens, the first British missionary, used in translating Bible and wrote a beautiful verse in its praise, comparing Marathi to a rare blue diamond, ever fragrant jasmine and the magnificent peacock! In the current era,this is the language endorsed by Dr Anne Feldhaus, the Distinguished Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at ASU and by Dr. Maxin Burnson, a well known American lady who lives in India and runs a school to teach Marathi at Phaltan in Satara district.
Marathi (English: /məˈrɑːti/; मराठी Marāṭhī), one of the oldest Indo-Aryan languages of India is the current official language of Maharashtra, the western state of India and a co-language in the neighboring states. Marathi is currently ranked as 16thin the list of most spoken languages in the world. It is one of the 22 “scheduled languages “of India. Marathi is an ever evolving and fast adapting language connected to the rest of the world by
translations to and fro from other languages specially, English (for example, the works of William Shakespeare, Pygmalion etc), and by having Marathi (Devnagari) font on computers and cell phones. This is a prominent modern language which will be worth learning in these days of globalization, specially taking into account the fact that the local language at the most popular international business hub, Mumbai is Marathi. The official language of the government of Maharashtra is the Marathi.
Most importantly, this is the mother tongue of the rapidly growing, peaceful, highly educated, tax paying community in Phoenix, AZ. Maharashtrians are avid readers and are proud of their rich literature. A non-profit, local Marathi organization, Akshaybhasha, has donated 500 marathi books each to Tempe public library and to Chandler public library, underlining the meaningful and enriching existence of these people. Following write ups in the local newspapers will give you a glimpse of the participation of Maharashtrian American children in Marathi program :
The Marathi school- PMMM Vidyamandir has been doing a stellar job in propagating our language to the next generation. Getting a language credit towards a school degree in American public schools or colleges by studying Marathi will fulfill the legacy of our forefathers and will help us assimilate in American society with confidence. This is the declaration of our dream on this auspicious International mother language Day. Namaste!
Writer- Bhagyashree Barligay
The pioneers- PMMM Vidyamandir Marathi School Teachers- Mrs Alka Ganpule , Mrs Kshama Takalkar, Mrs Sona Bhide, Mrs. Poonam Mahajan.