To promote cultural and linguistic diversity, UNESCO designated 21st February as International Mother Language Day in 1999. The theme of the 24th edition of International Mother Language Day was ‘Multilingual Education – The need to transform education’. Programs were organized at different places on the occasion of International Mother Language Day. On this day, people in West Bengal and Bangladesh pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives for the recognition of Bengali as a language. It is celebrated as Ekushe February, ‘Mother Tongue Day’ or Shahid Dibash. Various processions and programs were organised in Kolkata to celebrate this day.
Language links India and Bangladesh, said Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, Md. Mustafizur Rahman. In spirit of such a connection, fifteen cyclists from Kolkata reached Dhaka at the end of a seven-day journey. The members told that for the first time they went to Dhaka in 2012 to participate in the ‘Bhasha Dibash’ festival and they keep going back every year after the kind of hospitality they received.
There are about 6,500 languages in the world and Bangla is currently the sixth most spoken language. However, globally, around 40 percent of the population lacks education in the language they speak and the motive behind International Mother Language Day is to promote and preserve languages and its importance. There was also an event in Sri Lanka on International Mother Language Day after which the Indian Embassy in Sri Lanka tweeted and said that language builds bridges and connects people, especially in the India subcontinent.