Raji is an endangered Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand by around 3000 people who are known as Banrawats or Banrajis. Rajis call themselves Bhulla. They are believed to be the descendants of the prehistoric Kiratas who settled in the area.
Because of Raji’s extensive contact with neighboring languages like Kumaoni, Hindi etc., Raji is so mixed with features that it is hard to determine if it is a Tibeto-Burman lg heavily influenced by Indo-Aryan & Munda, or a Munda language heavily influenced by Tibeto-Burman & IA.
In recorded history Rajis were first mentioned by then commissioner of Kumaon hills, GW Traill in 1823. GA Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India (1909) mentions their language as ”janggali”. Raji is found to be related to Raute, another TB language spoken in parts of Nepal.
Yadava (2003) classifies Raji into the Central Himalayish subgroup of Bodish-himalayish group within Tibeto-Burman language family. Raji has close connections with Newari, Kham, Magar and Raute Languages of Nepal. According to Ethnologue (2019), Raji is classified under Central Himalayan branch of Himalayan branch of Western Tibeto Burman languages.
Devanagari script has been adopted for writing this language by the Raji community.