Shaheed Minar and the native language

This article is also available in: Italiano

Today is World Mother Language Day, what better time then to talk to you about one of the most significant and celebrated monuments in the whole of Bangladesh? The Shaheed Minar stands in Dhaka as a reminder of the struggles for equal linguistic recognition.

A suffered monument

From 1947 to 1971 Pakistan was divided into two parts: Western Pakistan (which de facto corresponds to the current country) and Eastern Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Initially, the government declared Urdu and English as official languages, a decision that prompted the Bengalis to start protests. The latter then merged into the “Movement for the language”, which began to initiate more and more initiatives so that both had the same value and the same importance.

Shaheed Minar
The first version of the Shaheed Minar

On February 21, 1952, the Pakistani government then gave the order to open fire on the demonstrators, killing several of them and, paradoxically, paving the way for the country’s independence. Immediately after, in fact, the first version of the Shaheed Minar was erected, 2 years later Bengali was recognized as one of the official languages and in 1956 it finally had the same value as Urdu. Following the Bengali War of Liberation, the monument was destroyed, only to be inaugurated in its new form in 1972, once the country became definitively independent.

Shaheed Minar

Shaheed Minar means “monument to the martyrs” and the whole work has the task of inspiring this meaning. Nothing was left to chance by the Bengali artist Hamidur Rahman and each element is linked to a different aspect of the revolution. The central monument represents a mother with her fallen children, with the great red sun behind her, also a central element of the country’s flag.

Shaheed Minar
The Shaheed Minar today

Marble is present in most of the work and has the role of transmitting the “concept of divine”, thanks to the particular light generated by the reflection of the Sun. Around the Shaheed Minar there is a sort of large enclosure, all decorated with verses of the greatest Bengali poets. Inside the area there are also 2 statues of the martyrs of 1952, placed at the entrance, and a mural that represents the entire history of the “Movement for the Language”.

We wanted to talk about it today because it is thanks to this event that “World Mother Language Day” is celebrated today.

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