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All for love of language

Ranchi, May 19: Moder gaurab, moder asha / amori Bangla bhasha (Bengali language is our pride and our hope).

The beautiful rendition of this song by a group of ladies at Union Club and Library this morning, stirred up the feeling of patriotism and love for Bengali language among the audience. The song was the perfect start to Bhasha Shaheed Divas (Language Martyrs Day), the day dedicated to those who lost their lives fighting for their mother tongue, Bengali, in Silchar.

From inspiring and patriotic songs such as Jadi tor dak shune keu na ase, tobe ekla cholo re to poetry by Ratna Bannerjee and Rathin Chatterjee and talks on Bengali language by Subir Lahiri, the hour-long programme had it all.

Arunangshu Bannerjee, a local literary figure, described language as the basis of culture and lifestyle of a community. Commercialisation of language had begun during the British rule, he opined and added that consumerism will also set in at a later stage. This type of commercialisation or even politicising of language may have helped the growth of market or some vested interests but not the human society, Bannerjee said.

On May 19, 1961, Bengalis in Silchar organised Bhasha Andolan to protest the status of the language there. What began as a silent protest snowballed into a bloodbath, killing 11 protesters. From that day, May 19 is celebrated as Bhasha Shaheed Divas by Bengalis around the country.

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