The nation observed the Language Martyrs Day and International Mother Language Day paying homage to the martyrs of the Language Movement at home and abroad on Saturday.
The countrymen paid glowing tributes to the Language Martyrs, who laid down their lives for the mother tongue in 1952, amid countrywide ongoing blockade.
Different political parties and socio-cultural organizations organised cultural and discussion programmes to mark the day across the country. Bangladeshi diplomatic mission in various countries of the world also arranged discussion and cultural events on the day.
A programme was held at the UN Headquarters in New York marking the day. Bangladesh's Permanent Mission to the UN, too, organised programmes marking the day.
The day was a national holiday. The national flag was flown at half-mast in honour of the martyrs at all government and non-government installations in the country.
Ekushey February, or the International Mother Language Day as we call it now, is an occasion to ponder the significance of the sacrifices made by language martyrs 63 years ago in 1952.
The day is not just to remember their sacrifices and contributions by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar, but to treasure the significance of such bravery.
People from all walks of life swarmed to the Shaheed Minar to pay their respects to the martyrs on Saturday singing 'Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano Ekushey February', As the clock struck one minute-past zero hour, President Abdul Hamid led the nation to pay respect to the martyrs as he placed a wreath at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After placing the wreaths, they stood there in solemn silence for a while as a mark of respect to the martyred language movement heroes.
Thousands of people from all echelons of society including diplomats began descending on the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka and millions more thronged their respective Shaheed Minars throughout the country. They joined political leaders, social and cultural activists to pay their respects.
On this day in 1952 the heroic people came out on the Dhaka streets braving bullets of the Pakistani police who gunned down a number of protesters including Rafique, Shafique, Salam, Jabbar, Barkat and many others.
The heroic people, especially students of the Dhaka University and other educational institutions spearheaded the protest against the declaration of the Pakistani rulers that Urdu shall be only the state language of Pakistan.
The death of students provoked widespread unrest and after bloody movements, the autocratic Pakistani regime was forced to succumb to the brave and patriotic Bengalis and finally recognized Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan.
In November 1999, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day, which has since been observed every year to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Meanwhile, the Central Shaheed Minar and adjoining areas went under a security blanket to ensure smooth observance of the Amar Ekushey.