The 22nd of February saw the celebration of the International Mother Language Day by the students of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) at the DST auditorium in the campus. The celebrations were held a day later than the day officially designated by the UNESCO. It commemorates the martyr students who sacrificed their life near the Dhaka High Court in the struggle for the recognition of Bangla as one of the two national languages of the then East Pakistan, in 1952.
Through songs, recitations, dances and drama – as well as a 15 minutes screened documentary, the importance of linguistic diversity, cultural heritage and a pride for one’s mother tongue has been expressed colourfully and eloquently. Although the main initiative for the program was taken by the Bengali students of the campus, careful consideration had been taken to keep the program adequately representative, with active participations and attendance by members from a wide variety of language communities.
With delicious “Bong” food to cap it all, the 2 and a half-hour program managed to keep the audience engaged throughout with interestingly scheduled performances. If the start was through a dance to the track “Sundori Kamala”, it was shortly followed by the documentary screening, following which was a Telugu song by a contract worker in the campus, Vasanta Akka. The representativeness of the event was illustrated by the sheer number of performances, none of which felt remotely redundant. Sample a few of them: “Tushu and Bhadu”, which is a rendition of a song sung by rural women in some districts of West Bengal, a recitation of a Santhali poem which was a protest of the marginalization of the dialect in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, the play “Pebet” – an adaptation from a Manipuri play, and the cute “Hum Honge Kamyab” by the children of the construction workers of the campus who were trained by – once again – a few students of the selfsame campus.
The crème de la crème of the performances, was probably the final play “Draupadi” adapted from the Mahasweta Devi short story of the same title, written and directed for the stage, by Sohom Bhattacharya (Economics 1st Year). The play brought out – in an animated fashion – the narrative of the marginalized, and the ugly side of unbridled power in the hands of State machinery. In the context of the politically problematic theme as well as the marginalized community it portrayed, the play became relevant to the overall spirit of the event.
“We have tried to highlight the not-so-stereotypical elements of the folk culture of Bengal, represent the marginalized communities of our country as well as include the languages that were not included under the 8th schedule of our Constitution.”, says Mrinmoy Pramanick, final year PhD student in Comparative literature and one of the main brains behind the organisation of the event.
A description of the event would not be complete without a mention of the beautiful documentary “Celebrating Bhasha 2015” that was prepared with hours of hard-work, research and interviews and which completed the audio-visual impact of the extravaganza. As pledged in the video, the event indeed reminded us to “celebrate language in all its plurality” in one wonderful evening amidst the “cacophony of cultures”.
By Ishan Mukhopadhyay, MA 1st Year English
Photo-courtesy: Abu Saleh, Research Scholar in Comparative Literature