Mother Tongue Day
February 21st was International Mother Tongue Day. Founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in November 1999, the day has been celebrated every year since Feb. 2000 promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Each year for this day has had its own theme. The theme for 2010 is “International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.”
The Wikipedia page on International Mother Language Day describes the signifigance of this date:
“On 21 March 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor general of Pakistan, declared that Urdu would be the only official language for both West and East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), whose main language is Bengali, started to protest against this. On 21 February 1952, (8 Falgun 1359 in the Bengali calendar), students in the present day capital city of Dhaka called for a provincial strike. The government invoked a limited curfew to prevent this and the protests were tamed down so as to not break the curfew. The Pakistani police fired on the students despite these peaceful protests and a number of students were killed.”
The day was observed in Bangladesh where it is also known as National Martyrs Day. Expatriates assembled in their chancellery in Bangladesh to honor those who sacrificed their lives for their mother tongue 58 years ago. The function included the Bangladesh national flag hoisted to half-mast, special prayers recited seeking blessings for the salvation of souls of the martyrs, and for seeking divine blessing for the continued peace and progress of Bangladesh.