“মোদের গরব মোদের আশা আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা” “Moder Gorob Moder Asa A-Mori Bangla Bhasha” (Our Pride, Our Hope, Our love Bangla/Bengali Language). These are lines from Atul Prasad Sen’s song, composed during the period of Bengal Renaissance. Later this song became an inspiration to freedom fighters of Bangladesh’s Liberation War in the 70’s. This song still helps us in holding on to our roots as Bengali. Today on International Mother Language Day let’s look back in time to find out why is this day so significant.
Language Movement Day to International Mother Language Day
ভাষা আন্দোলন দিবস Bhasha Andolôn Dibôs (Language Movement Day) also called (State Language Day) শহীদ দিবস Shôhid Dibôs or Language Martyrs’ Day, is of utmost national importance to Bangladesh. Every year on 21st of February the Bengali language movement is commemorated and the citizens pay homage to the movement’s martyrs. In 1999, UNESCO declared 21st of February as International Mother Language Day. As a Bengali from/in India, this day is of no less importance to us. Bangla or Bengali Language is our mother tongue. Bengalis are the third-largest ethnic group in the world, after the Han Chinese and Arabs. That makes Bengalis the largest ethnic group within the Indo-Europeans.
History of Language Movement Day
We are observing the 70th Language Movement Day or International Mother Language Day this year (21.02.2022). After the partition of India in 1947, Bengali-speaking people in East Bengal, the eastern part of the Dominion of Pakistan, made up 44 million out of 69 million of the newly formed Dominion of Pakistan. The government of Dominion of Pakistan’s, bureaucrats and military were dominated by Urdu speaking western wing of the Dominion of Pakistan. Therefore the National Education Summit advocated Urdu as the sole state language, and its exclusive use in the media and in educational institutions. Opposition and protests immediately arose and students from Dhaka rallied demanding Bengali as one of the official languages of the Dominion of Pakistan and the medium of education in East Bengal. However Bengali/Bangla was banned and Urdu was declared as the only state language of the Dominion of Pakistan.
Result of Language Movement
Public outrage began to spread. This Language Movement is what instilled in the minds of the people of East Bengal (later East Pakistan) the idea of a separate national identity, distinct from that of the remainder of Pakistan, later West Pakistan. The protests and protestors were being tagged unlawful. On the morning of 21st of February, 1952, students gathered on the premises of the University of Dhaka as defense against the offensive charges. As the day matured, the protests stormed violence and several young lives were lost. This day, today is universally accepted as International Mother Language Day. Bengali was declared the second official language on 29th of February, 1956. The Language Movement and the blood and lives of hundreds of youth, finally led to a birth of a new nation in 1971, Bangladesh.
Observing International Mother Language Day
21st of February, International Mother Language Day, is special to Bengalis all across the globe. Various places have language monuments to commemorate the Bengali authors and language martyrs, where people visit to pay their homage on this day. The monuments are well decorated with flowers and garlands and cultural functions take place. There is no dearth of literature and art in Bengali language. The most important monument is the Shaheed Minar, a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In India we have Bhasha Smritistambha at Deshapriya Park, Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal; Bhasha Shahid Smarak at Chandannagar, West Bengal; and Bhasha Shahid Station, Silchar, Assam.
It is our responsibility to keep our mother tongue alive and flourishing. There’s enough literature and we should keep reading them. We should teach our children our mother tongue. Let’s keep growing the tribe.
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