The Bhasha Diwas celebrations of New Town Residents’ Welfare Forum began on the eve of February 21 when members drew an elaborate alpona, led by Deepsikha Das of DA Block, at the Rabindra Tirtha side of Biswa Bangla Gate.
A prabhat pheri was taken out the next morning from Rabindra Tirtha. It took two hours to reach Nazrul Tirtha.
In the evening, a programme was held at Nazrul Tirtha, starting with a speech by author Sushnato Das. He talked for an hour about the historical relevance of the day. “We salute the people who gave up their lives for the establishment of Bengali as their official language. They could not bear to have Urdu imposed on them as the state language in a province where 40 million people spoke and wrote in Bengali,” said Das.
Hidco chairman cum managing director Debashis Sen was also present. “We should remember February 21 is International Mother Language Day and not just Bangla Bhasha Divas. It is a day we celebrate all languages across the world. Let us be more open to things we don’t know and more tolerant and appreciative of languages across the country,” he pointed out.
Samir Gupta, joint convenor of New Town Residents Welfare Forum felicitated the guests and requested the Hidco authorities to set up a shahid bedi to mark the contributions made by language activists both in West Bengal and Bangladesh. This was followed by cultural programmes by representatives of several blocks.
The performances took place in a packed auditorium where most women were dressed in red and white saris and men in ethnicwear.