Ekushey February: Mourning or celebration?
February 21, 1952, started with a usual sunrise but ended in a bloodshed that stained our history forever. Celebrated as the Martyrs' Day, this is a day of mourning. Since the turn of this century, this day has been celebrated around the world as the 'International Mother Language day'.
However, where all our lost martyrs were setting an example for the other nations, capitalist businesses nowadays are busy in using this day as a way to maximize their profit margins. It is sad how such a historic incident that took place merely 66 years ago has now been forgotten. It is more important to be trendy and look good in black and white.
Last year, on February 5, I went out with my mother. We were at a grocery shop at the middle of Mirpur section 2, where all the branded stores were also located. Without this experience, I would never have learned better.
All the stores were busy launching their Ekushey's collection as if it was Eid, day of celebration. I was left awestruck by the way we celebrate the deaths of our national heroes by wearing new clothes which comes with a brand name and costs thousands!
I am quite sure our martyrs on February 22 did not worry about their own clothes as they marched to their deaths. Then, why we need such fancy clothes to mourn for them? Playing dress up is not the point of this day at all. It is about remembering the sacrifices made for our right to speak Bangla. We seem not to remember that anymore.
Shortly afterwards, I saw a girl, who had just finished her Ekushey February shopping, discussing something very peculiar with her friends, "I need matching earrings with the alphabet printed dress. Without matching accessories, my look for the day will be totally a no-no," she said. She looked very frustrated. I was at a loss for words as I stared at the group of youngsters.
On February 21, 2017, my morning slumber was cut short by a brutally vibrating phone. When I unlocked my home screen, I found my Facebook feed overloaded with new posts . Girls wore flowers in their braids and ponytails. Men donned brand new clothes and accessories. They were all visiting the Shaheed Minar to rejoice on this, well, occasion.
Regardless of gender, without uploading colourful selfies, the day would seem quite incomplete for these people.
Every year, thousands of people walk to Shaheed Minar on this day. They also visit the Ekushey Boimela- our pride and joy. Those people back in 1952 decided to choose Bangla over their own lives. The price was a red garland, covered in blood which they did not hesitate to pay. On the other hand, here we are, buying clothes to mourn for them on their death and taking pictures with our iPhones to capture the moment.
More floral tyras are visible on heads then on the staircase of the Shaheed Minar to mourn for the dead. The price they paid with blood is evaluated with fancy, expensive garlands and fashionably retro panjabis with wristwatches and expensive sandals. Our language has now become a mere printed design on young bodies trying to look better.
The raging flavour of freedom and patriotism has started to forsake this divided landmass, where showing love has become more important than feeling it. Another spring has arrived, when again we will celebrate the death with sparkling dresses and authentic accessories, forgetting to thank these who had gifted us the language we speak today.
Note: These images were used solely in relation to this article, not to defame any fashion house.
The writer is studying at Department of English, Notre Dame University Bangladesh