BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha celebrated International Mother Language Day at various mandirs and centres across the UK during February 2019.
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.”
BAPS has been celebrating this day in the UK since 2010 through the Bal-Balika Mandal. This year’s event was held at several towns and cities across the UK with educational talks and presentations explaining the importance of one’s mother language and the general value of being bilingual or multilingual.
Students learned the importance of Gujarati as well as the richness of many other languages of India. The learning was enhanced through practical exercises, including poetry writing and playing games. Parents also learned how to foster these skills at home and in everyday interactions for their child’s holistic development, especially communicative confidence, reading fluency, and overall cultural proficiency.
A child from Watford shared, “It was really interesting to see how learning Gujarati can broaden my understanding of Indian culture. I also want to speak with my grandparents in Gujarati.”