Remembering the Bengali Language Martyrs Day
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor
Each year at the early hours of the 21st day of February thousands of people queue at the iconic sculpture of Shaheed Minar or the martyr’s monument constructed near Dhaka Medical College to pay tribute to the slain martyrs of the Bengali language movement.
Many people bring red and yellow flowers and spread them out in front of the martyr’s monument. In Bangladesh, it is a National Day of Mourning.
This five framed Shaheed Minar monument is raised fourteen feet above the ground and consists of four standing marble frames and a large double marble frame with a slanted top. The four frames at the Shaheed Minar monument were built to bear in mind the slain students who sacrificed their lives for the cause of making Bengali an official language. The double frame at the martyr’s monument represents their mothers and country.
This day in Bangladesh is known as Shaheed Day. On this day in 1952 a number of students who campaigned to advocate Bengali language as an official language were killed in Dhaka during a Language movement protest. At the request of the Bangladeshi people, on 17th November 1999 at the 30th session of the General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held in Paris, the 21st day of February was proclaimed the International Mother Language Day.
From the time of the declaration of this very important day, it has been observed annually throughout the world to promote linguistic and cultural diversity across the world. Various competitions, festivals, awards and book fairs are held throughout the month to remember the Bengali culture and language. A major book fair known as Boi Mela with the cooperation of the book publishers and book sellers has been held since 1974 in Dhaka, to honor the unforgettable Language Martyrs Day. Bangladeshi’s throughout the world will commemorate this significant, solemn day in memory of the movement and will pay tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the Bengali national identity.