‘I revolt in Bengali, I love in Bengali, I speak out my heart in Bengali’

The Association of Bangladeshi Students and Scholars celebrated International Mother Language Day on Feb. 25.



Dipanwita Barai dancing in traditional attire.

NIKHIL GANTA, Evergreen reporter

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated on March 7, 2023, for some minor errors.

“I revolt in Bengali, I love in Bengali, I speak my heart in Bengali.”

These are lyrics from “Ami Banglay Gaan Gai,” or “I sing in Bengali” by Pratul Mukhopadhyay. Saraf Islam Promi, Association of Bangladeshi Students and Scholars chief cultural secretary, sang the song at the ABSS’s International Mother Language Day event.

The ABSS celebrated International Mother Language Day on Feb. 25 in a night filled with song, dance, poetry, food and more. Members of the ABSS hosted the annual event in acknowledgment of the history of the Bengali language and the fight against Pakistan to preserve it.

The night opened with an introduction from Khalid Hossain, host and ABSS scholar. Hossain was followed by ABSS vice president Azmain Faek Islam, who thanked the ASWSU, RHA, ISC, GESA Credit Union, GPSA and US Bank for sponsoring the event and formally welcomed everyone in attendance.

ABSS advisor Dr. Mohammad Aminul Islam followed Faek Islam.

“We happily celebrate this month for our rights to speak our own language and to spread the awareness of protecting all indigenous languages across the world,” Aminul Islam said.

ABSS members Azmain Faek Islam, Susmita Chowdhury Suchi, Akm Nabiul Haque, Saraf Islam Promi and Nabil Ashraf Shuvo performing “Ekusher Gaan,” or “The Song of the 21st.”

WSU linguistics professor Nancy Bell then gave a presentation on the importance of speaking one’s mother tongue and the effects of having a second language on higher education. Bell spoke out against monoculture and said that people should use their mother language in order to preserve it.

The night continued with performances representing Bangladeshi culture and language from various members of the ABSS. In between each performance, Hossain continuously narrated the story of Bangladesh and the movement to preserve its language.

ABSS members Susmita Chowdhury Suchi, Promi, Akm Nabiul Haque, and Nabil Ashraf Shuvo sang “Ekusher Gaan,” or “The Song of the 21st,” by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, a Bangladeshi-born British writer.

“Ekusher Gaan” is considered an anthem of the Bengal Language Movement. The song marks Feb. 21 as International Mother Language Day and recognizes Bangladesh’s fight against Pakistan to preserve the Bengali language, while paying tribute to mother languages across the world.

Ujjayan Majumdar, WSU graduate research assistant, recited the poems “Africa” and “Dui Bangla” by Bengali poets Rabindranath Tagore and Apurba Dutta respectively.

Tathagata Pal, Sreya Mukherjee and Sushant Ciliveri performing a medley of songs.

Promi then sang “Ami Banglay Gaan Gai,” or “I sing in Bengali.”

ABSS members then performed songs and dances.

ABSS member Dipanwita Barai performed a classical dance routine to the tune of the traditional Bengali song “Dhadina Natina” by Lopamudra Mitra.

Nabiul and Aditya Bose-Bandyopadhyay performed traditional Bengali music and popular American songs such as “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra and “Renegades” by the X Ambassadors.

WSU graduate students Sreya Mukherjee, Sushant Ciliveri, and Tathagata Pal performed a medley of modern Hindi and Bengali songs.

Later, WSU graduate students Redwan Ahmad Khan, Faek Islam, S. M. Hasan Shahriar Rahat and Nabil Ashraf Shuvo performed a comedic skit directed by Mohammad Mezbah Ul Hoque. The group wore mime makeup and depicted the lives and routines of graduate students, evoking laughter from the crowd.

The performances concluded with Shuvo performing the song “Esho Amar Shohore” by Bangladeshi indie rock band Meghdol.

Mela Bangladeshi catering food for all attendees, coordinators, and performers.

After the performances, the audience was directed to a table for dinner.

The food consisted of many Bengali and other Asian specialties such as Pakora with mint and tamarind sauce, Bashmati Polao, Garbanzo Curry, Tandoori Chicken, Mattor Paneer and Gulab Jamun.

Mela Bangladeshi Cuisine, a Bangladeshi restaurant that recently opened in Pullman, catered for the event.

There was a turnout of about 170 people, drawing Bengali students as well as a variety of people from different ethnic backgrounds. Promi said that nearly half of the audience consisted of people from backgrounds not affiliated with Bangladesh or ABSS.

“We reached out to every international RSO … I’ve personally met a lot of RSOs from different countries,” Promi said. “We reached out from our internal channels saying that we wanted as many international people as possible.”

Azmain Islam said he and members of the ABSS coordinated the event over the course of two months.

“This event is a symbol of our independence … it is deeply rooted in Bangladeshi culture,” said Azmain Islam.