International Mother Language Day is celebrated every year on 21st
February. The main purpose of celebrating this day is to promote the awareness
of language and cultural diversity all across the world. It was first announced
by UNESCO on November 17, 1999. Since then it is being celebrated every year.
The date represents the day 21st February 1952 when four young students were
killed in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, because of Bengali and Urdu
language controversy. Languages are the most powerful way to preserve and develop
culture and to promote it all across the world. Because of this unfortunate
incident, International Mother Language Day is celebrated in all over the
world, while it is a public holiday in Bangladesh.
In 1947 at the time of partition of Pakistan, the province Bengal was
divided into two parts: the western part became India and the eastern part is
known as East Bengal which was later known as East Pakistan. At that time there
were many economic, social and cultural issues including linguistic issue. In
1948 when government announced Urdu as the national language it sparked the
protest among the Bengali speaking majority of Pakistan. The protest got out of
control and ended with the death of four protestors of the University of Dhaka
who were shot by the police. The students’ deaths during the fight for their
mother language are now remembered as The International Mother Language Day.
The Shaheed Minar in Dhaka pays respect to those four protestors killed
for the sake of their mother language. An International Mother Language Day
monument was constructed at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia. Here we can see
the images of Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone with the
words “we will remember the martyr of 21st February” written on it in
both Bengali and English languages.
On International Mother Language Day UNESCO and other UN agencies take
part in the events to promote cultural and linguistic diversity all around the
world. They appreciate and encourage people to be knowledgeable about their
mother language and provide them with awareness regarding the promotion of
their language and culture towards other countries. In Bangladesh on
International Mother Language Day people go to Shaheed Minar to pay tribute to
the martyr of 21st February and sprinkle flowers on the monument. This is a
time for Bangladeshis to celebrate their culture, traditions and their Bengali
national language. The prizes are given to those who made outstanding
performance in language and cultural diversity.
International Mother Language Day is celebrated in memory of the four
students who were killed while fighting for their mother language and is
celebrated to tell them that we will never forget their sacrifices.

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