Pakistani Police while protesting against the imposition of Urdu as Pakistan’s state language.
In February 1999 the United Nations declared February 21 World Mother Language Day. At midnight on 20 February (Shahid Dibosh) the Language Movement is remembered in a solemn ceremony in the Park – to which the Bengali community comes to lay wreaths. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, journalist and freeman of Tower Hamlets, wrote the well
known Martyr’s Day song Amar bhaier rokte rangano Ekushe February which is sung at the ceremony.
Also find by St Mary Matfelon’s foundations, a sapling that has been planted to replace the giant cedar that once stood here. Embedded in the path metal letters form a poem by Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore (12) (1861 - 1941), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911 and wrote the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.
The shade of my tree is offered tothose who come and go fleetingly. Its fruit matures for somebody whose coming I wait for constantly
Exit the park via the Altab Ali Arch, cross the road and walk up Osborn Street leading to Brick Lane.
Find a wide selection of Bengali/Asian music, films, newspapers and magazines in the area. Visit Geet Ghar (Osborn Street), and Sangeeta, Mira and Music House in Brick Lane and Eastern Cooperative and others in Hanbury Street. The vibrant music pouring onto the streets mingles with recordings of religious prayer further down Brick Lane creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Note the Sonali Bank (13) on your left, where Brick Lane begins, is used by Bengali workers to send remittances to their families in Bangladesh Also found here are travel agents offering flights to Dhaka, Sylhet and to Makkah (Mecca) for the Hajj, the most important Muslim pilgrimage.
Continue onto Brick Lane (14) – an area of London that has derived its name from the 17th century when, particularly after the Great Fire of 1666, London clay was dug up here in deep pits in the fields, to be fired in smoky kilns. Heavy carts ferried bricks along the rutted lane to Whitechapel. The famous architect, Christopher Wren was noted to have said Brick Lane was “unpassable by coach, adjoining to dirty lands of mean habitations.”
Mina Thakur’s Brick Lane Arch, dates from 1997 and like Brick Lane’s lamp posts, is adorned with the crimson and green colours of the Bangladesh flag. Also note that street names are translated into Bengali script.
A number of shops still sell fabrics, linings, buttons, machinery and other material for the clothing industry, particularly for the manufacture of women’s dresses and outerwear. Women’s garments sold by top retailing chains are still made round here, often as sub contracts in small workshops employing 5 to 8 men or as piecework by Bengali women working at home. At the other end of the Brick Lane is evidence of the now declining leather industry.