February 21: Coloured by the blood of my brother
Farhana Naznin, 21 February 2016, Nirapad News: In every year, at the beginning of month of February, the air of Bangla sings — “Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano” (Coloured by the blood of my brother). In Bangladesh, every schools, collages, institutes and organizations harmonise this song by organising various cultural programme on the way of celebrating February 21 as the Mother Language Day. They show immense tribute and respect to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives on that fateful day for our mother language ‘Bengali’.
Mother tongue is so important that the people of a country express their ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. clearly through mother tongue. But it is an irony of fate that the then rulers of Pakistan tried to impose Urdu as mother tongue upon us instead of Bengali.
On March 21, 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor General of Pakistan, declared that Urdu would be the only official language for both West and East Pakistan. The brave and patriotic people of the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), whose main language is Bangla, started to protest against this. So the people of Bangladesh country raised their voice against this unlawful decision. February 21, 1952, (8th Falgun 1359 in the Bangla calendar), students in the present day capital city of Dhaka called for a provincial strike. The government invoked a limited curfew to prevent this and the protests were tamed down so as to not break the curfew. But the people of our country raised their voice against this unlawful decision. ‘The Mother Language Sangram Parishad’ started movement for the due honour of Bangla.
At nine o’clock in the morning, students began gathering on the University of Dhaka premises in defiance of Section 144 of code of criminal procedure 1898. The Dhaka university vice-chancellor and other officials were present as armed police surrounded the campus. By a quarter past eleven, students gathered at the university gate and attempted to break the police line. Later, suddenly, the Pakistani police fired tear gas shells on the students despite these peaceful protests and a number of students were killed brutally. Abdus Salam, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Rafiq Uddin and many other persons were killed.
From that day, the Language Movement of ’52 has a major and significant cultural impact on Bengali society. It has inspired the development and celebration of the Bengali language, literature and culture. February 21, celebrated as Language Movement Day or Shahid Dibosh or Martyrs’ Day, which is formed as one of the major national holidays in the history of Bangladesh.
In 1999, in recognition of the Bangla Language movement, UNESCO adopted a resolution declaring the 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day. The day has been celebrated with due respect to the martyrs of the movement at all UN nations since year 2000.
Languages are the most powerful way to preserve and develop culture and to promote it all across the world. Because of this unfortunate incident, International Mother Language Day is celebrated in all over the world, while it is a public holiday in Bangladesh.
In every year, at the Shaheed Minar, near Dhaka medical college, people pay respect to those valiant sons of Bengal who sacrificed their lives on February 21. The first hours of Ekush is all about the ‘Probhat Pheri’, as is generally known, is the human procession towards Shaheed Minar offering garlands and flowers.
People go to Shaheed Minar on barefoot with bouquet of flower wearing black and white attires to pay tribute to the martyr of the 21st of February and sprinkle flowers on the monument.
People of all ages arrive from midnight and it continues throughout the day, with volunteers decorating the Shahid Minar platform with the flowers. The people organize social gatherings, where they honour their language and draw Alpana on the roads and listen to event themed songs “Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano” (Coloured by the blood of my brother). This is a time for Bangladeshis to celebrate their culture, traditions and their Bengali national language.
It is neither just a day on the calendar nor an opinion. It is a reflection of our own personal sense of worth, national integrity, freedom of speech, and respect for our roots. People of Bangladesh shall always remember the sacrifice.