New Delhi/Dhaka, Feb 21 (IBNS): Countries across the globe, including Bangladesh, celebrated International Mother Language Day (Bhasha Divas) on Thursday to to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
It was first announced by UNESCO on Nov 17, 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000.
The day assumes special significance in Bangladesh where scores of people, mostly students and teachers of the Dhaka University, were mercilessly shot down by the Pakistani army in 1952 in erstwhile East Pakistan.
The activists had protested against imposition of Urdu as the national language side-stepping Bengali-their mother tongue.
But the incident calls for celebration too as the protest sowed the seeds of home-grown nationalism that ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh from the ashes of the Liberation War in 1971.
On Thursday, thousands of barefoot people belonging to different section of the society met at ´shaheed minars´ (tombs) built across the nation to mark the day as the clock struck 12.01 am. People also paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs.
Observing the occasion, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed a wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka city to pay homage to the Language Movement martyrs.
Other top officials of the country also participated in the event.
Meanwhile, netizens shared their thoughts on the day on social networking sites like Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter.
Writer Taslima Nasreen tweeted: "Today is Bengali Language Day.Bengalis died for their language in 1952. But alas!Young Bengalis prefer to speak English rather than Bengali."
One Sudip Saha tweeted."Suprobhat! Din ta bhalo katuk ... Aaj Antorjatik Bhasa divas ... Bhalo thako (Good morning! Have a nice day. Today we are celebrating International Mother Language Day)."
"Today is International Mother Language day and also BengaliLanguage Movement anniversary. Let us honor our mother tongue," one Maksudul Alam said.
"Cheers to the memories of the past & my salaam to the Martyrs who fought for the justice & the language movement.. 21st february!" one Sheena Chohan posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Another Anushay Hossain tweeted: "Happy #Ekushey to all my fellow Bangladeshis! The spirit of 1952& 1971 lives on!"
One Mpule K. Kwelagobe said: "Today is International Mother Language Day! Celebrating#Setswana, our national language, and ALL languages spoken in beautiful #Botswana."