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Bangladeshi Students Present International Mother Language Day

Updated: Mar 15

Anika Raisa Chowdhury, Student Life Editor

The Shahid Minar on UC Stage on the day of the event. Photo//Anika Chowdhury

The vibrant halls of the James C. Renick University Center buzzed with cultural fervor as the Organization of Bangladeshi Students brought the essence of Bangladesh to life on February 22, marking the celebration of International Mother Language Day. The day is considered a bittersweet event as it celebrates the recognition of the mother tongue of Bangladesh alongside mourning the martyrs behind the language movement.

International Mother Language Day is a globally recognized observance held annually on February 21, commemorating the historic Bengali Language Movement of 1952. 

The movement was sparked by the decision of the Pakistani government to declare Urdu as the sole official language, disregarding the linguistic and cultural identity of Bengali-speaking people in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). This marginalization led to widespread protests, culminating in the tragic events of February 21, 1952, when police opened fire on student demonstrators in Dhaka, resulting in several casualties. 

The sacrifices made by the protesters galvanized the Bengali community, eventually leading to the recognition of Bengali as an official language and paving the way for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

The vision board depicting some key aspects and the martyrs of the language movement in 1952. Photo//Organization of Bangladeshi Students

Central to the commemoration of International Mother Language Day was  the Shahid Minar, a symbol of the language movement and a tribute to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the cause. The Shahid Minar stands as a solemn reminder of the resilience and determination of the Bengali people in their struggle for linguistic and cultural rights. 

Each year, floral wreaths are laid at the base of the monument to honor the memory of the martyrs and reaffirm the commitment to preserving linguistic diversity and identity.

Vision board created by the host organization to showcase the history of the Shahid Minar. Photo//Rajarshe Chowdhury

On the day of the event, the representatives from the organization dressed up in black attires and wore a black ribbon badge to show their respect and mourning for the sacrifices of the martyrs. 

Multiple vision boards were set up to demonstrate the significance and history of the day and the Shahid Minar. There was also a vision board that attendees could use to express themselves. Additionally, presentation slides and a question-answer session were used to showcase the history of International Mother Language Day and the Shahid Minar.

International Mother Language Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and to raise awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting mother languages worldwide. It serves as a reminder of the fundamental right to linguistic identity and the rich tapestry of languages contributing to the world's cultural heritage.

Attendees writing messages in their mother tongue. Photo//Shahima Rahman

The Organization of Bangladeshi Students is a new student organization that was approved to join the university last November, and they celebrated International Mother Language Day for the first time with great enthusiasm. 

The members had worked tirelessly over the past week to prepare the Shaheed Minar, the vision boards and other decorations. Through this small event, the representatives proudly presented the country’s glorious history.

This small gathering showed individuals from various countries on campus that International Mother Language Day is not just a commemoration, but a celebration of heritage, identity, and the power of cultural exchange.

To stay updated regarding the organization and upcoming events, keep an eye on their Instagram.

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