New Delhi/Dhaka, Feb 21 IBNS | 5 months ago

Countries across the globe, with Bangladesh leading, on Friday hailed their mother languages as they observed the International Mother Language Day (Bhasha Divas), which aims to promote awareness of linguistic, cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on Nov 17, 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.


International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000.

The day assumes special significance in Bangladesh where scores of people, mostly students and teachers of the Dhaka University, were mercilessly shot down by the Pakistani army in 1952 in erstwhile East Pakistan.

The activists had protested against imposition of Urdu as the national language side-stepping Bengali - their mother tongue.

But the incident calls for celebration too as the protest sowed the seeds of home-grown nationalism that ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh from the ashes of the Liberation War in 1971.

On Friday, thousands of barefoot Bangladeshis belonging to different section of the society gathered at 'shaheed minars' (tombs) built across the nation to mark the day.

The entire nation paid a glowing tribute to the Language Movement martyrs who laid down their lives for the mother tongue in 1952.

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar amid tight security as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey 'Amar Bhayer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February' was being played.

Feb 21 is a public holiday in the country.

Several cultural programmes are also associated with this day and on Friday, the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) is scheduled to organise "Ami Tomaey Bhalobashi" - an evening of poetry recitation in the Dhaka city of Bangladesh.

In Pakistan, the day was celebrated with the theme 'Local languages for global citizenship: spotlight on science', while a special rally in favour of Punjabi language to be held in Lahore city.

The Pakistan Punjabi Literary Board (PPLB) in collaboration with the civil society organisations, including the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan Chapter (SAP-PK), Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) and World Punjabi Journalists Association, Punjab Union of Journalists, will hold a special rally titled 'Maa Boli' from the Lahore Press Club to the Punjab Assembly building at 1pm, media reports said.

In Peru, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture celebrated the occasion with a concert featuring a wide variety of talented performers whose work includes music that incorporates indigenous languages.

Meanwhile, writer Taslima Nasreen wished netizens on Twitter saying: "Happy International Mother Language Day!"

Posting a picture, she tweeted: "Remembering those days when I used to lay flowers at martyr's monument."

(Posted on 21-02-2014)