Bangladesh celebrates Shaheed Day on 21 February each year. This is a very solemn holiday that remembers the bravery and death of Dhaka University students who fought to keep Bengali as the national language. It is a day of national mourning to honour the memory of the nation’s “martyrs”.
|2019||21 Feb||Thu||Shaheed Day|
|2020||21 Feb||Fri||Shaheed Day|
The background of Shaheed Day is the attempt of Pakistan, during the 1950’s when Bangladesh and Pakistan were united as one nation, to impose Urdu as the national language on what is now Bangladesh. But most in Bangladesh spoke Bengali, not Urdu.
Rallies of students and other protesters soon erupted in Bangladesh to oppose Urdu being forced on them. Police action was taken against them, and many were put under arrest, found guilty of criminal activity, or even shot down dead. Ultimately, Pakistan backed down and recognised Bengali’s status as the official language of Bangladesh.
Unlike most holidays in Bangladesh, which are full of jubilation, Shaheed Day is a time of solemn mourning. Many will lay down flowers and garlands to honour their memory. The atmosphere is solemn, patriotic, and intense.