Celebrating ‘Bhasa Divas’ plunging into the pages of History

Spandan Banerjee

It is just not a medium of expression. It is not a way of conversation. It is not merely the formation of utterance. Language is a form lifestyle, identification of a particular community. Yes, it is true. Language helps to present ourselves wrapped up with emotions and sentiments. Life becomes handicapped without language. Language is a form of celebration . On this day, the fifth most popular language of the world gets celebrated among each and every ‘Bangali’. February 21, as we all know is celebrated as the International Mother Language Day all over the world.

Bengali is a language embedded with a rich tradition and heritage. From Rabindranath to Jasimuddin, RamMohan to Abdul Matin, Najrul to Jibananda Das…all have paid homage to this language. If one travels down memory lane, one is sure to remember the struggle associated with this particular day.

After Independence, India was divided on basis of religion,thus making crores of Bengali speaking people to follow Urdu as their administrative language. In 1948, the Govt of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the Dhaka University, Rajshahi College and many other similar institutions were completely manhandled by the East Pakistan police. That instance of genocide is still burning in our hearts. Not only the students, 2 lakh women were brutally gangraped by the officers of the ranks.  The struggle of the women during the struggle this freedom movement sows the early seeds of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle in the bloody canvas of Bangladesh.  The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. Abdul Jabbar, Abu Barkat, Abdus Salam and many other students were killed. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest. After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. This movement showed the way of ‘Muktijudhho’ of 1971, i.e freedom struggle of East Pakistan to be the sovereign Bangladesh. In 1999, UNESCO declared 21 February as ‘Bhasa Divas’ in tribute to the Language Movement and the ethno-linguistic rights of people around the world.

This is a day to celebrate one’s mother tongue all over again. It is a day to remember and feel the richness of the first syllable one had uttered when one first started to speak. At the same time it’s the day to take responsibility of preserving one’s own language as it is a wave of life which shapes our lifestyle. Let’s celebrate the day in the name of one’s mother tongue remembering the lines of Atul Prasad Sen who once said,

“Ei Bhasha tei bolbo Hari, Shango hole kanda hasha”

An article by Spandan Banerjee.