Thursday, February 21, 2008

Celebrate your Language

Today is the 21st of February- a day of great significance in the history of Bangladesh. On this day the nation pays homage to the Language martyrs who fought, more than half a century ago, to establish Bangla as a state language.
This is the language movement day and on this day in 1952 the Bengalis protested to the Pakistani government's order to make Urdu the only state language of the country. The people of Bangladesh( the then East Pakistan) vehemently opposed this decision and demanded that Bangla be included amongst the state languages of Pakistan.The Pakistan government, ofcourse, did not give in easily and tried to suppress the movement. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq and Jabbar andf a few brave young men sacrificed their lives in the movement. The day has since been observed as the Language Martyrs Day which the UNESCO later declared as the International Mother Language Day (I think around 1999), thereby giving it a more universal appeal.

The Language movement is a turning point in history because it reinforced the identity of the Bengalis and gave rise to the spirit which ultimately led to creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Afterall, a language is what reflects a culture.

I am missing Dhaka because in this month there is a different kind of spirit in Bangladesh.The Bangla book fair is also held in this month in Bangla Academy and I used to be a regular visitor there till last year. The book fair or "Ekushe Boi Mela" is the place where a lot of much awaited new books are launched.

So since this is also the International Mother Language Day, let's celebrate our languages and appreciate their uniqueness. No matter how much English we speak in during the course of the day, the fact remains that no language can be as close to our hearts as our mother tongue.

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