UNESCO in 1999 announced an International Mother Language Day to be celebrated on February 21 every year. This date was picked up on the basis of historic campaign by the Bengali people of then-East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to get the Bangla language recognized as a national language in the year 1952. The emphasis was on promoting linguistic diversity and multi-lingual education. It also meant to create greater awareness about the significance of the education of the mother tongue. Educational institutions, media outlets, cultural and literary organizations and governments around the world are supposed to advance this principle.
A UNESCO report clearly shows that 3,000 languages will disappear at the end of 21st Century and humanity will not only lose cultural wealth but also important ancestral knowledge embedded especially in aboriginal languages. This process can be reversed if we all do sincere efforts to revitalize mother tongues with well-planned policies.
The members of the Lovers of Mother Language World Society organized a seminar at Centre Surrey Library on September 14 to highlight the importance of the mother tongue and the theme was “Mother Language and Importance of Books.” Dr. Suresh Kurl delivered the keynote address. Balwant Sanghera , who is known for championing the cause of the Punjabi language in B.C., fully supported an idea of protecting the mother tongue. He said that Punjabi is now the third most popular language spoken in Canada. M. Rafiq, a prominent Urdu lover, felt himself lucky to be the part of Canada that promotes multiculturalism and languages and said that we should respect other languages. John Amin, a representative of the Bangla language, presented a contradictory viewpoint. He found that diversity of languages creates more problems in societies and it is better to have one international language that can unite the people of the world. Tom Abandano endorsed the policy of the mother language and encouraged others to practice their mother tongues at home. Only then it could survive.
“Mother language is the foundation of all progress. We find, if we look around, that all weighty researches in field of science and technology have been carried by the powerful nations of the world such as the U.S., Russia, Germany, China, etc. in their national languages. Most importantly, the glory of culture is embedded with the mother language,” said Acharya Shrinath Dwivedi, Chair of the seminar..
There was a dance performance by T. Mahendra, Tharny Mahendran and S. Vimalendra choreographed by S.S.K. Swami. Oobni Rahman Khan, 7, performed a traditional Bengali dance. There was also a performance by dancers of a Filipino (Philippines) group.
(Information by ACHARYA SHRINATH DWIVEDI)