Tuesday, February 21, 2012

International Mother Language Day

If you reside temporarily in Bangladesh, you may wonder what is the appropriate greeting to give on February 21st, a national holiday and, now, also a internationally recognized holiday since the U.N. decision in 2009. The words to the song sung over and over on this day, tell you that this is a sad day." Amar Bhaiyer Rokto Rangano, Ekushe February. Ami ki bulehteh pari?" which translates as “The blood of my brother was spilled on 21st February. Can I ever forget it? So, no, you should not wish any one a “Happy Ekushe” or anything similar. Ekushe February is a day of mourning as it commemorates the deaths of 6 students in 1952.
In 1952 Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan and while it was much smaller according to size, it had a much larger population and that population spoke Bangla/Bengali. When the central government located in West Pakistan announced that Urdu and only Urdu would be the official state language of the nation, it caused a major outcry among the Bangla speaking majority. They could not imagine how their culturally rich and Nobel prize winning language could be made to disappear. On February 21, 1952 the Dhaka University students and Dhaka Medical College student organized a protest march whereas, the West Pakistan central government had called for the enforcement of of Section 144 which basically banned any type of gathering. or meeting. When the students approached Dhaka Medical College the police opened fire on them, killing six of the students.
The events of 21st February 1952 have long been acknowledged as being the precursor to the national independence movement that ultimately led to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation.
On this day, people organize a visit to the Shaheed Minar which was erected as a memorial to those killed in 1952 and lay flowers. Bangalees who live outside of Bangladesh often erect temporary Shaheed Minars in their locality and organize ceremonies for flower laying. The ceremonies start at midnight on Ekushe February. No matter where you are, if you are from Bangladesh you never forget this day. .
As we mourn in remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their language,we say,.” Ekushe maneh mata noto nah kora” Which translated means,” the 21st means not putting your head down - no compromise.”
Joy Hok Bangla Bhashar.

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