Riasti, Bhawalpuri or Choolistani is a Western Punjabi dialect spoken throughout a widespread area in Pakistani Punjab on the banks of river Sutlej and Choolistan desert. Its name is derived from Riast (State) of Bahawalpur.
It had been historically classified as dialect of Punjabi. In 1920’s Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified Riasti (Bahawalpuri) in to Southern cluster of Lahnda (Western Punjabi) but recently Southern Lahnda has been standardized as a separate language Siraiki. The debate over Saraiki as a separate language or dialect of Punjabi is an issue which could not be resolved to date because of contrasting views of Local linguists who based on the facts that Saraiki is Mutually intangible, Morphologically and Syntactically similar with Standard Punjabi is in fact dialect of Punjabi.
Today Riasti is clearly a distinct Hybrid dialect from Multani (Saraiki), because not only it always had slight Rajasthani language influence but also because the State of Bahwalpur (Now Bahawalpur division) is in a state of demo graphical changes as the process of Land cultivation has brought in Malwi & Majhi Standard Punjabi speakers in majority in 9 (Tehsils Sadiqabad,Bahawalnagar,Hasilpur, Yazman, Khairpur Tamiwali, Chishtian,Fort Abbas,Haroonabad,Minchinabad) out of Total 14 Tehsils of Bahwalpur division. This dialect is becoming a more hybrid in nature over the time as gap between Majhi and Riasti closing down. This all has resulted in rejection by Bahawalpuris of inclusion in Proposed Saraiki Province.
Sub-dialects of Riasti
Dialect speaking areas
These 3 districts speak this dialect cluster: