Published On: Tue, Feb 21st, 2023

Bhasha Diwas: Why 21 February Is Observed As Bengali Language Movement Day? Significance And History | India News

International Mother Language Day: Every year on February 21st, Bhasha Diwas, also known as International Mother Language Day, is observed to encourage linguistic and cultural diversity as well as multilingualism. Once UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) designated this day as an international holiday in 1999 to commemorate the 1952 Bengali Language Movement, people began to observe it. Students in Bangladesh protested the Pakistani government’s decision to make Urdu the only official language during this movement.

Bhasha Diwas encourages the protection and preservation of all languages, particularly those that are in danger of extinction. The holiday emphasises the value of linguistic diversity and calls on people to honour and speak their native tongues on a regular basis. Across the world, events and activities are planned to honour the diversity of languages and cultures on this day. Programs for learning languages, seminars, and workshops are among these. The occasion of Bhasha Diwas offers a chance to honour and value the rich cultural heritage that languages bring to our lives.

Bhasha Diwas – History

Every year on February 21, International Mother Language Day is marked to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity as well as multilingualism. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) initially proclaimed it in 1999 to honour the Bangladeshi Language Movement.

Language Movement

The Language Movement, often referred to as the Bengali Language Movement, was a political and cultural movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) that pushed for the Bengali language to be recognised as Pakistan’s official language. Pakistan was split into East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, and West Pakistan, which is now Pakistan, at the moment of partition in 1947. Urdu was proclaimed the only official language of Pakistan. Nonetheless, Bengali speakers made up the majority of the people in East Pakistan, and they felt that their language and culture were being marginalised. East Pakistan experienced riots and demonstrations when the Pakistani government proclaimed that Urdu would be the only official language of Pakistan in 1948.

Student Protest

Students from the University of Dhaka and other educational institutions organised a protest march in Dhaka on February 21, 1952, to call for Bengali to be recognised as Pakistan’s official language. Many protesters were killed when the police intervened and opened fire on the peaceful marchers.

Bengali Language – Recognition

The Language Movement represented a turning moment in East Pakistan’s fight for independence and cultural identity, and it ultimately resulted in Bengali being recognised as one of Pakistan’s official languages in 1956. The campaign also opened the ground for the establishment of Bengali as the national language of Bangladesh, which became independent in 1971.

In an effort to celebrate linguistic and cultural variety, multilingualism, and to remember the martyrs of the Language Movement who gave their lives in defence of their mother tongues, UNESCO designated February 21 as International Mother Tongue Day in 1999.

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