| February 21st, 2007

Omor Ekushey

Shaheed Minar, Dhaka, Bangladesh Source: Internet Today is Martyrs day. This February 21st day commemorates the lives sacrificed to make Bengali one of the national languages when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan. The West Pakistani regime tried to force Urdu as the national language, a fact that was strongly contested by Bengalis. On that fateful day a procession by Bengalis was shot at by police resulting in the death of 4 martyrs. The nascent Bengali nationalism ultimately gave birth to the free nation of Bangladesh

Following a proposal made by Bangladesh, UNESCO created February 21st as the International Mother Language Day in 1999. (Source: VirtualBangladesh)


8 Responses to “Omor Ekushey”

  1. Shahnaz says:

    Join us paying homage to our language martyrs and in celebrating International Mother Language Day.

    Following is a poem by Begum Sufia Kamal, 

    Poems on 21st

    Such a wonderful day today,
    nobody laments for the dead, none
    fears death’s grim face. A strange gleam
    lights the weary body and face; in each footstep
    the glittering light of determination is aglow.

    As if they have signed their names
    in Bengali
    On their own death-sentence;
    “I have taken up my mother from the dust
    to my bosom.”
    There have been Salam, Barkat and thousands
    of unknown names.
    They were their father’s only hope, their mother’s
    last possession, someone’s partner for life
    or a lone brother of some hapless sister-
    They are no more now.
    They are no more? No, that’s not true!

    They are here in the sky and wind
    very close to our hearts.
    They are in the marching feet of the processions,
    with the undying song of death in their throats,
    in the fiery looks of the angry protesters.

    Ekushey is now mixed with blood and
    the Bengali tongue
    It is now unconquerable by any.


    Translated by K. Ashraf Hossain.

  2. Sharmin says:

    From childhood these special days meant a lot to me. Its not just 2/21 its “Ekushe February”, after moving to the US I miss it a lot.

    We have a small program here in Seattle this evening. Since it is a workday its hard to make but we all are very excited to attend. Last two days I worked late nights so that I can leave early today:).


  3. Ishret says:

    I miss “Ekushe” a lot as well! Last night we watched live Ekushe activities from Dhaka as played on nTV and became nostalgic with the “amar bhayer…” song!

    Last year we had a program on Ekushe arranged by Bangladeshi community here, do not have anything this year though!


  4. Udita says:

    21st February is a very remarkable day for me. And that day has declared as a govt holiday for past few years, but our office(Canadian High Commission, Dhaka) was open so we were bit upset with management, than also we had celebrated that day very nicely. We told all ladies and gents on 20th Feb to dress up with Black & white colour for 21st Feb. Most of us dressed up themselves in that way so we felt we are showing respect to those great heroes(who have sacrifised their lives for the language movement in 1952). But personally I had a desire to go to Shahid Minar on that day but because of office I could n’t able to make it.

  5. Shaila says:

    I remember Ekushey February very clearly, participating in Ekushey Programs, giving flower to Shahid Minar bare foot, learning about the history through books, TV, music and all the people and students around us. Since we lived in DU campus, we were in walking distance from Shahid Minar and from 12 AM on the 20th we would hear “Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushe February” song played. The streets were being painted by Art college students starting a few days before and we would always walk around the streets looking at those beautiful “Alpona’s”.

    My sister Samia Zaman was living in London since I was 10 years old, but she would most definitely be in Dhaka every year during Boi Mela and Ekushey February. She took me to Boi Mela every year since I was 4-5 years old, no matter how crowded it was, no matter how dusty it was. When I grew up, I became a part of the crowd, the dust and the energy of that Mela. I was addicted to books, all my friends were. We did not have enough money to buy all the books we would love to buy, so we all bought different books and exchanged them -that way we could read a lot more. I never missed going to Shohid Minar or BoiMela and Bangla Academy during Ekushey and the whole month of February. I hope the young generation today is also going there and learning what Ekushey is all about and getting their reading habit started from an early age.

    Here is a link to some interesting read about Ekushey.


  6. Sharmin says:

    My obeservation is that we as a nation love to do symbolic stuff (“Anushthanikota”) more than anything. Abdulllah Abu Shayeed Sir once said we are not good at any planning and working towards a goal.

    When I see all the programs around such days like “Ekush” I get this feeling once again. We are remembering Salam, Rafiq and all those who sacrificed their lives to uphold our language, however do we take time what it menas for 2007? What are our plans to keep our language in a place where it will be used for sharing our knowledge and other useful work?

    Why don’t we recognize the heros who are relentlessly working to uphold Bangla in the context of 21st century, this could include those working for Bangla Wikipedia, those who are working on Bangla computing, Bangla SMS all that sort of work. We are mostly focused to Bangla novel/story/poetry only.

    If we keep on importing technology and other commodites from outside it doesn’t make sense to just translate them to Bangla, translating mobile phone to “Muthophone” is one such example.

    In a family level we can do simple stuff like introducing Bangla rhymes/songs/stories, showing Bangla speaking role models to make our children respectful about this culture.

    It is time to BUILD, ekush of 1952 should give us the inspiration for that.


  7. Oneza says:

    On a separate note to share some celebration news, people of Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Richland, Pasco), WA have given February 21st, The International Mother Language Day a real meaning of Internationalism.

    This year, the IMLD celebration included 15 languages from different continents, languages from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Noteworthy inclusion this year was, the sign language and one Native American language. People performed in their own language, and described/shared some basics of each language.

    After attending the event, I strongly felt that it made some impact in peoples’ minds, created the appreciation for multi-lingualism as it is the main intent of the day declared by UN.

  8. Phantom says:

    Robindronath Tagore said,”Dosh(10)kuti lokke ke Banglai korecho- Manush to koroni hey Probhu”-
    -Every Year we remember Salaam,Barkat, Rafiq -by offering flowers and maintaining silence at the Shaheed Minar- a symbolic gesture which doesnt do any good for the soul of these ekushey Martyrs for the Bengali Language- We offer no prayers for the peace of their souls- and this should be done by all those in their own language and style-
    Next in schools/colleges/universities when students get good academic marks they should be given special crests on which it will be written on behalf of the the Martyrs of Bengali Language-Salaam,Barkat n Rafiq. Debates could be held to improve the knowledge of the students on language Movement.
    This way the student while learning Bengali will know that theirs is a language that deserves special respect.

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