It is International Mother Language Day (IMLD) today (Feb 21), a day to celebrate the right to speak and write in one’s mother language.
Here are 10 things you should know about International Mother Language Day (IMLD):
1. It was on Nov 17, 1999 that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first announced the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) to be observed on the 21st day of February every year to promote multilingualism and linguistic and cultural diversity.
2. Feb 21 is the day when, in the year 1952, students of University of Dhaka, Jagannath College and Dhaka Medical College demonstrated to pressurize the government to recognize Bengali as one of the two national languages in then East Pakistan. The police shot them dead near Dhaka High Court in Dhaka, the capital of present Bangladesh.
3. The United Nations General Assembly formally recognized the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) in its resolution proclaiming 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
4. It was Vancouver-resident Rafiqul Islam,a Bengali, who suggested that Feb 21 be recognized as the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) in remembrance of the 1952 Dhaka killing during the Bengali Language Movement.
5. Every year, UNESCO suggests a theme for observing the International Mother Language Day (IMLD). This year (2017), the theme is “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”.
6. International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is observed worldwide, especially in Bangladesh, where the day commemorated as Language Movement Day or Language Revolution Day or Bengali Language Movement Day or Shohid Dibôsh (Martyrs’ Day).
7. It is a national day and a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is the day when Bangladeshi people pay their floral tributes at the Shaheed Minar, the martyrs’ monument erected in Dhaka in memory of those students killed on Feb 21, 1952.
Social and cultural programs are arranged to honour Bengali as the national language of Bangladesh.
8. The theme song of Feb 21 in Bangladesh is “Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushe February” (Feb 21 is coloured with the blood of my brothers).
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9. The International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is also celebrated in India, particularly in Assam and West Bengal, Chile, Russia, Philippines, Egypt and Canada.
10. On the occasion of International Mother Language Day (IMLD), many organizations recognize the contributions of individuals for their contribution towards their community.
The prominent ones are International Linguapax Award given by Linguapax International in Barcelona, Spain; Ekushey Heritage Award by Bangladesh Heritage and Ethnic Society of Alberta (BHESA) of Alberta, Canada; and, Ekushey Youth Award by Mahinur Jahid Memorial Foundation (MJMF) for residents of the Province of Alberta in Canada.