Non-Kannadigas now proudly proclaim 'Naavu Kannadiga'

Non-Kannadigas now proudly proclaim 'Naavu Kannadiga'

Bridging the barriers

It's been quite a transformation for many people hailing from other states. They no longer identify themselves as 'non-Kannadiga', but proudly proclaim 'Naavu Kannadiga'.

Kannada Kaliyona, a community initiative, is helping hundreds of software professionals, homemakers, senior citizens and just about anyone interested in learning the language speak it fluently.

The initiative, started by Sampath Ramanujam, aims to connect non-Kannadigas with the native speakers of the language in Bengaluru. The classes are conducted on weekends in government schools at Seegehalli and Kadugodi and some apartment complexes. There has been a steady increase in the number of people enrolling at these classes.

"Every language has a beauty of its own that makes it different from others," says Ramanujam, who conducts the classes for free. "Besides, speaking the language of the land helps you connect to its people."

The classes, conducted over six weekends, cover speaking, grammar and other aspects of the language. Each session is held for two hours: 90 minutes of teaching and 30 minutes of learning. At the end of the course, every participant receives a Kannada Kaliyona booklet and a #NonKannadigaToNaanuKannadiga online certificate.

Amit Bansal, a software professional from Ludhiana, has been living in Bengaluru for over 10 years now. He says of the Kannada Kaliyona course. "I wanted to learn the language for long as I wanted to connect with people I meet in everyday life."

Bansal has now basic Kannada-speaking skills. He is touched by the gesture of his colleagues who are happy that he is learning Kannada. "I would get offended if someone would not speak Hindi correctly but my friends are happy to see me speak broken Kannada."

Viji Kumar is a German translation professional who recently moved to Bengaluru. "These classes have been a blessing for me as they have helped me converse with people on an everyday basis," he says.

Ramanujam now wants to take the initiative to IT companies to help them establish connections with locals.