The Swaminarayan Sunday School celebrated International Mother Language Day on 22 February 2015 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
International Mother Language Day is organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and UN agencies to “promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.” UNESCO adds that “languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.” In particular, “the dissemination of mother tongues will serve… to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.”
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School has been celebrating this day annually since 2010, marking the occasion with informative talks and presentations promoting the Gujarati language for second- and third-generation children of Gujarati origin born in the UK. These events also equip and encourage parents to help their children learn Gujarati as they also excel in their first language of English.
To align with this year’s theme of “Inclusion in and through education: Language counts”, students were encouraged to understand the importance of Gujarati and then educate their family and friends on the reasons for and benefits from learning Gujarati.
Children were encouraged to speak in Gujarati with each other and elder family members to help them to ‘use and not lose’ the Gujarati language and enable more effective communication among all members of the family, including grandparents.
Through this event, the participants strengthened their appreciation of the Gujarati language and were inspired to speak to others about their mother language.