The nation is paying respects to the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement on Friday, marking 'Amar Ekushey', the Language Martyrs' Day and International Mother Language Day.
The great Language Movement, a significant event in the nation's history, was aimed at establishing the right of the mother tongue as well as protecting self-entity, and culture and heritage.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying the homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at one minute past midnight.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar seven minutes before the clock struck 12 midnight, while President Abdul Hamid reached the Central Shaheed Minar four minutes before the zero hour.
The President and the Prime Minister proceeded to the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar together in slow pace as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey—'Amar bhaiyer rakte rangano Ekushey February'-- was playing.
The President was the first to lay a wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar. Just after the President, the Prime Minister placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.
Ministers, advisers to the Prime Minister, MPs, the chiefs of three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
On his arrival at the Shaheed Minar, the President was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury paid tributes to the martyrs by placing a wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
Flanked by Cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Awami League, later placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
Walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar with wreaths and flowers singing 'Amar bhaiyer rakte rangano Ekushey February', people from all walks of life are set to pay their rich tributes throughout the day to the heroes of the Language Movement who laid down their lives for achieving the recognition of Bangla as the state language of erstwhile Pakistan.
On February 21, 1952, students and the common people in Dhaka took to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government's denial of Bangla as the national language and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings on this day in 1952 when students came out in a procession from the Dhaka University campus breaching section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of then Pakistan.
Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, 'Amar Ekushey' inspired and encouraged the nation to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and struggle for freedom and the Liberation War.
With the bloodshed passage of Language Movement, the nation got the recognition of Bangla its mother tongue and attained its long-cherished independence under the charismatic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971.
The day will also be observed across the world as Unesco recognised Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day on November 17, 1999.
The theme of this year's International Mother Language Day is "Languages without borders". The theme focuses on cross-border languages and helps preserve indigenous heritage.