On Ekushey February
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
The Bangladesh flag rises high.
Replica of Shahid Minar at Dhaka Residential Model College.
Every year International Mother Language Day comes with a universal message of respecting languages around the world. However, for us Bengalis, the February 21 has an added dimension as this was the day when the seed of an independent Bangladesh was sown. Bengalis are indeed emotional and maybe there is hardly any other nation who had to sacrifice so much for the right to speak in a language of its own. To keep this sacrifice in mind and heart, a memorial was made adjacent to Dhaka Medical College Campus, where the guns of ruthless oppressors were fired on students, on office clerks, on people from every walk of life whoever rooted for the dignity of Bengali Language. As we all know, that memorial was Shahid Minar. The unique figure stands proud proclaiming the fact that Bangalis are never to be defeated.
Needless to say this time the International Mother Language day was celebrated with more aplomb and spirit than ever before. From young to old, everybody had one pledge in mind while attending the Probhat feri (a special rally at dawn) on the morning of February 21, towards Shahaid Minar. Rehnuma Hossain, a North South University student says, “I went to the Shahid Minar even before dawn was broken. This year the Probhat feri was certainly different as people were very much inspired by the protests on Projonmo Chattar." All around, everyone was singing "Amaar bhaiyer rokte rangano," -- bringing about a feeling of solidarity and unity.
Students preparing the Shahid Minar for Ekushey February.
While people were taking the pledge to create a better Bangladesh, little Audrib, a class 3 student of Dhanmondi Government Boys' High School, Dhaka was doing his bit in a unique way. “I, along with my friends, made a Shahid Minar out of hardboards in the premise of our apartment building. My mom gave me the money to buy the necessary hardboard, glue and scissors. Almost everybody in the building appreciated our efforts and some also offered flowers. I was inspired to build this Shahid Minar after reading the story of building the first Shahid Minar by the students in one of my books.”
Patriotism displayed through art.
Strolling towards the Boi Mela
February 21 is a festive day for the Bangladeshis, especially the ones residing in Dhaka. One of the main attractions of the day is none other than the Ekushey Boi Mela, or the Book Fair. It is the place to be on February 21. Though normally the Boi Mela opens at 3:00 pm, weekends and February 21, are the days when the fair opens up early in the mornings -- as early as 7:30 to 8:00 am. Lots of young readers, families and children are seen visiting the Boi Mela on this day, since it's a day off from classes and office.
Boi mela on February 21 is filled with colours mainly black and white. After the Probhat feri at the Sahid Minar, book lovers take a stroll through TSC and go to the book fair. The Dhaka University campus is also in a patriotic festive mood that day. As time goes by the crowd at the Boi Mela gets bigger and bigger. And the funny thing is that every five minutes, you'll see a famous person walk by! People rush over to book stalls to get their favourite author's new book, or even to get an autograph. Every corner of the Boi Mela that day is filled with excitement, from the Nazrul Mancha to the Lekhok Kunjo -- even the media corner is over whelmed with reporters from all over the country.
Over the years the crowd of the BoiMmela has been getting bigger and better. The youth's participation is outstanding! Nobody misses the Boi Mela, especially on February on 21.
Our valiant language martyrs are resting in eternal peace in the capital's Azimpur Graveyard. Ashfaque Hossain, a Dhaka University student is well aware of the fact and apart from the usual celebrations of International Language Day, Ashfaque decided to visit the graves of the language martyrs this year. “Standing on the solemnity of the graveyard I offered my prayers for the departed souls of the martyrs. I was almost in tears but as I remembered their heroic contribution towards our nation I was also inspired to do something good for my country.”
Bangladesh is a country of storytellers, singers, troubadours, farmers, freedom fighters and overall, a country of brave people. Every year on February 21, we seek to realise the spirit of these brave souls by paying homage at the Shahid Minar, by going to Ekushey Boimela and by rekindling our love for our mother tongue. As this February came with new hopes of youth uprising at the Projonmo Chattar in Shabagh, the pledge to keep marching together as a nation and shun all evil was reiterated in every rally towards Shahid Minar. Ekushey never fails to inspire us and this time it came with not only new hopes but also with the proof that Bangladesh has risen and nobody can hold us back anymore.