The Amar Ekushey Book Fair saw a massive surge in visitors’ number on Friday when the nation untied to pay tributes to the Language Movement martyrs at home and abroad.
February 21 is also celebrated as the International Mother Language Day. Cultural organisations in Dhaka arranged a variety of programmes marking the occasion.
The festivity had a profound effect on the book fair which was crammed from Bangla Academy premises to Suhrawardy Udyan.
Mostly dressed in black and white, book lovers from all corners of the capital kept the fair abuzz all day long. Among them, many had set foot in the fair for the first time this year. One such visitor, Tongi resident Ashfaq, said he did not come to the fair because of the long journey from home.
"I decided to visit the book fair on Feb 21 to pay homage to the Language Movement martyrs and of course, buy some books," he said.
The high number of visitors made the job of the law enforcement tough but the publishers were happy.
A salesperson of Oitijhya publications said they recorded buoyant sales since morning. "We’ve received an ample number of customers. We hope to see the numbers go higher in the final days," she said.
Many visitors complained about the lack of books on indigenous languages. Toma Yesmin, a student of Dhaka University, said that this shows endangered languages have little support in the largest literature festival of the country.
"There are over 20 languages spoken and written by the indigenous people of the country but their representation in the fair has kept declining. This is a sad fact to discover on the International Mother Language Day," she said.
Apart from the fair, cultural organisations like Chhayanaut, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) and other institutions organised programmes paying tributes to Language Movement martyrs.
Bangladesh Shishu Academy arranged a seminar followed by a prize-giving ceremony and cultural event. Chhayanaut started the day at Azimpur Soldier Camp, reminiscing the scenario of 1952 Language Movement. Later, a cultural event was held at its Dhanmondi auditorium.
BSA organised a series of programmes on the occasion and placed floral wreaths at the Shaheed Minar.
Cultural festivities of BSA started at the Shaheed Minar in the afternoon and BSA’s Nandan Mancha in the evening with the singing of the national anthem and the iconic 'Amar Bhai Er Rokte Rangano Ekushey February' by foreigners living in Bangladesh.
Artists representing the foreign missions and performing groups of Australia, France, Nepal, Maldives, Spain, Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Japan, Sri Lanka and institutions such as the Iran Cultural Centre, Confucius Institute, China at North South University and Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre performed Bengali solo and group songs at the event, along with poetry recitations and dance recitals.
Bangladeshi artists, led by Yesmin Ali, presented English songs as a token of respect towards other languages - honoring the dignity of International Mother Language Day.
A nine-day-long solo photographic exhibition of Khurshid Alam Alok titled ‘Banglar Apan Soudh’ featuring the photographs of children’s drawings of Shaheed Minar was inaugurated on Thursday at the 3rd Gallery of BSA’s National Art Gallery, which saw a massive crowd attraction throughout the day.