Dhaka, Bangladesh
Immortal Ekushey

Immortal Ekushey

Today, we celebrate February 21 as the day has become a sacred one for us. The month of February reminds us of the great 1952 Language Movement that not only stimulated the intellectual and cultural resurrection of the people who led a stifled life under the autocratic rule of Pakistan but also paved the path to the liberation of the nation. February reminds us of the supreme sacrifices made by valiant martyrs for our mother language Bangla. We call it now the Shaheed Day which now has a global significance with the declaration made in 1999 by UNESCO which recognised the date as International Mother Language Day. We now celebrate February 21 to raise awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions all over the world, to protect and promote linguistic diversity through multilingual education. Thus, Ekushey has become a day of pride for us and a source of respiration worldwide. The UNESCO resolution recognised the great sacrifices made by the Bengalis during the 1952 Language Movement. When students were demonstrating for the recognition of Bangla as one of the state languages of newly independent Pakistan, some students were shot dead by the police. The UNESCO declaration further honoured the people around the world who speak about 7,000 distinct mother languages in some 188 countries. The worldwide celebrations of the International Mother Language Day have increased the awareness of the need to save native languages and cultural diversity. February 21 has thus created a global family of people committed to speaking their mother tongues and protecting all mother languages. Language is not only just a means of communication. It is also the most powerful tool for preserving and developing one’s culture and heritage. It also fosters intercultural understanding and helps build global citizenship. Since February 21, 2000 the day is celebrated globally every year. Many mother language monuments have been built inspired by the Shaheed Minar (The Language Martyrs’ Movement) in Dhaka in countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, USA, UK, Italy, Denmark and Norway in 2001. The year 2020 marks 20 years of International Mother Language Day. February 21 has assumed new dimensions both at home and abroad. Ekushey is viewed as the source of independence and a brilliant culture that can inspire future generations to come. The Shaheed Minar at the Dhaka University campus and the annual celebration of February 21 all over Bangladesh is a clear demonstration of the national sentiment of independence and love for mother tongue. International Mother Language Day exists as a symbol of linguistic rights and identity – and that is the glorious gift from Bangladesh to the world.

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