Mattur village in Karnataka is widely known for using Sanskrit for their day-to-day communication. Sanskrit is the vernacular for most of its 5,000 residents. Mattur is mainly inhabited by the Sankethis, a Brahmin community that had migrated from Kerala and settled down in Mattur about 600 years ago. Till early 1980’s the villagers of Mattur spoke in Kannada and Tamil. Sanskrit was restricted to the upper caste Brahmins. Then the priest of the local religious center took an initiative and asked the residents to adopt Sanskrit as their native language. Children began learning Vedas from a very young age at the Sanskar Bharati School. Besides Sanskrit, the residents also use Sankethi & Kannada.
Shashank, a resident of the village, says:
We’re capable of speaking in Sanskrit but generally use Sankethi to speak & Kannada to write. We’ve Sanskrit speaking courses running in this village. Not only Indians but also foreign nationals come here to learn Sanskrit.
Famously dubbed as the Sanskrit Village of India, Mattur is not the only village that is a patron of the language. Ganoda in Rajasthan, Jhiri, Mohad and Baghuwar in Madhya Pradesh, Sasana in Orissa, and Hosahalli in Karnataka are proud Sanskrit speaking villages. At a time when Indian regional languages are struggling to survive, such hamlets are a refreshing source of inspiration.