International Mother Language Day was ceremoniously celebrated under the theme of ‘Language for Unity’ at Viharamahadevi Park yesterday. Bangladesh High Commissioner M. Riaz Hamidullah, National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan, National Unity and Reconciliation Office Chairperson Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Government Officers and Diplomatic invites present the event
By Shannon Jayawardena
The International Mother Language Day 2018 was celebrated yesterday, at the Viharamahadevi Open Air Theatre, highlighting the various ethnic identities across the world and the importance of one’s mother tongue, as it is the key symbol of our individual selves.
The celebrations were organised by the Bangladesh High Commission to Sri Lanka, in association with the Ministry of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages, The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, The Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, The Sri Lanka Scout Association and the University of Visual and Performing Arts. Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah said: “This morning is not for talking but for celebration through action and fun. When we look at languages we think of it as a challenge. Language is diversity and diversity is a challenge but language is really an opportunity. It is about peace, harmony, stability and prosperity.”
With the aim of liberating all languages, the event invited all ambassadors to Sri Lanka and their families and students from across the country, to partake in a blood donation campaign denoting that everyone belongs to one family amidst the cultural differences, while also giving them the opportunity to paint a few words in their mother language. In parallel, the event gave eight students from the University of Visual and Performing Arts the chance to engage in unleashing their thoughts and imaginations on canvases through art and paint, while a few others provided the audience with a medley of Sinhala, Tamil and Bangla music. Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Sri Lanka Chairperson and Chief Guest Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga stated: “This is a very important day, and as stated by everyone, we know how important language is to people and to a nation. We have seen many struggles across the world with demand for the rightful place for each language. Language is the vehicle of identity and is immensely crucial.”
The mother language sparks the most original thinking in an individual, while driving imagination, creativity and innovation in every child in his or her early stages of life. It symbolises ethnic identity, and unites members of a community with pride and self-esteem.
Likewise, as each language is a mean of securing dignity and well being, we must learn to thrive in multicultural environments by growing to respect these differences that often express emotions and one’s sentiments. “Language matters very much to Sri Lanka like it does for every country. The unsolved ethnic issue took a very serious turn during the war and took nearly 30 years to undo. Today the official language in our country is trilingual as diversity is our strength,” said National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan.
While there are 19 ethnicities diversified in the country, there are three official languages and four religions that mould Sri Lanka with added beauty. Hence every mother-tongue should be given respect and due solemnity as any other. Only then can we create the desirable basis for national development through multilingualism.
Pix by Lasantha Kumara