Monday, February 21, 2011

Today Is the Ekushey February and International Mother Language Day


The white space with black writings depicts the
Central Shaheed Minar (Central Language Martyrs' Memorial)
in Dhaka and the round disc shows some Bangla (Bengali)
alphabets in the outer circle and the writing
'Ekushey' (21st February) in the inner circle.

Black writings on the white space are
lyrics of the 'Ekushey February' song in Bangla.

The red background shows ornamental decorations.

Traditional alpona design (Toronto: February 18, 2011) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

Today is the Ekushey February (21st February) -- the Language Martyrs' Day -- in Bangladesh. At the same time, the world also is observing this day as the International Mother Language Day. We solemnly remember the Bangladesh bhasha shaheeds (langauge martyrs) and their heroic self-sacrifice for holding the status of the Bangla (Bengali) language high in face of rejection and oppression by the then Pakistan government.

As this day is also the International Mother Language Day, the people of Bangladesh can no longer observe this day exclusively as the Bangla language day. They also need to think of and give importance to the other mother languages of the 30 or so ethnic groups living in various parts of the country. These groups are Mandis (Garos), Hajongs, Santals, Oraons, Lushais, Chakmas, Marmas, Tripuras, Murangs, Tanchangyas, Chaks, Mrus, Kumis, Kukis, Khyangs, Banjogis and others. The languages of these groups also need to be fostered and encouraged before they vanish. The Bangladesh government needs to provide funds for teaching these languages (through writing and otherwise) to and publish books for children of these peoples.

Not only Bangalis (Bengalees) but also other ethnic peoples of Bangladesh have equal right to claim this day as their matri bhasha dibosh (mother language day). The majority population (Bangalis) has a duty to extend an all-out cooperation in promoting the languages of these peoples.

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