Language Martyrs' Day in Bangladesh in 2025

Language Martyrs' Day in Bangladesh in 2025
  How long until Language Martyrs' Day?
Language Martyrs' Day
  Dates of Language Martyrs' Day in Bangladesh
2025 Bangladesh Fri, Feb 21 National Holiday
2024 Bangladesh Wed, Feb 21 National Holiday
2023 Bangladesh Tue, Feb 21 National Holiday
2022 Bangladesh Mon, Feb 21 National Holiday
2021 Bangladesh Sun, Feb 21 National Holiday

International Mother Language Day is an observance held on February 21st worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

  Local name
Shôhid Dibôs

When is Bangladesh Language Martyrs' Day?

This major public holiday in Bangladesh is always celebrated on February 21st.

Known as Shaheed Day, 'Ekushe' (21st), Language Movement Day, Martyrs' Day and 'Shôhid Dibôs' in Bengali, this day commemorates those who lost their lives in the struggle for the Bengali language in 1952.

History of Bangladesh Language Martyrs' Day

In 1947, India was partitioned by the British, creating the 'Dominion of Pakistan', which was two separate regions to the northwest and northeast of India.

Even though the majority of people lived in the eastern part, where Bengali was the main language, the Dominion was in the control of the western part. In 1947, the western-based government had proposed Urdu as the only state language, and that it would be used exclusively in schools and in the media. This move caused unrest and protests in East Pakistan.

In early 1952, the protests had intensified and the government imposed a law (Section 144), which banned any gathering of more than three people.

On February 21st 1952, In defiance of the law, students began gathering on the University of Dhaka. The police enforced section 144 and arrested several protestors. This further enraged the crowd and when the students attempted to enter the building of the East Bengal Legislative Assembly, the police opened fire and shot dead four protestors.

As a result of the protests, Bengali was recognised as the second official language of Pakistan on February 29th 1956, and the constitution of Pakistan was reworded to "The state language of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali."

East Pakistan gained independence from Pakistan in 1971, becoming Bangladesh.

How is Bangladesh Language Martyrs' Day celebrated?

To mark the language movement and the massacre, a symbolic sculpture, Shaheed Minar (Martyrs' Monument), was erected in the place of the massacre. On February 21st, the area in front of the sculpture is covered in flowers, left as a commemoration of those who gave their lives in defence of their language and culture.

A popular saying on this day is "Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushey February, Ami Ki Bhulite Pari’ (Can I forget the 21st of February, incarnadined by the love of my brother?) 

On the day, the national flag will fly at half-mast in all government, semi-government, autonomous and private organisations. Television channels will broadcast special programmes and newspapers may publish special supplements for the occasion.

International Mother Language Day

The efforts of the Bangladeshi people to protect their language is honoured by UNESCO which established February 21st as International Mother Language Day in 2000. The intention of the day is to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Speaking on Language Martyrs' Day in 2020, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: "The International Mother Language Day is now a source of inspiration to all people of the world in establishing the truth and justice."

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