Every year, February 27 is celebrated as Marathi Language Day in Maharashtra and Goa states in India. It is also known as ‘Marathi Bhasha Din’ and ‘Marathi Bhasha Diwas’ in Hindi and Marathi respectively. This day is regulated by the State Government and is also celebrated in some regions of Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh. Marathi Language Day is celebrated on birthday of eminent Marathi Poet Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar. This day is celebrated by Marathi-speaking people in the state to honour the rich history and literature associated with it. On this day, essay competitions and seminars are arranged in Schools and Colleges. Government officials are asked to conduct various events.
Marathi Bhasha Diwas holds a lot of significance for Marathi speaking people. Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, alias Kusumagraj, was a noted Marathi poet and was born on February 27, 1912, at Pune in Maharashtra. He died at age of 87. Kusumagraj was not just a poet, but also a renowned poet, play-writer, novelist, and a story-writer. After his demise in 1999, the Maharashtra government started celebrating VV Shirwadkar’s birth anniversary as ‘Marathi Rajbhasha Gaurav Din’. Interestingly, VV Shirwadkar was born as Gajanan Ranganath Shirwadkar. After he was adopted, his name was changed to Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar. He was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award in Marathi in the year 1974. He was also awarded the Dyanpeeth Award in the year 1987. Vishakha (poem) and Natsamrat (play) are among his most notable works.
In 2016, two special awards were instituted by the government for individuals taking initiatives to promote Marathi literature. Marathi is the official spoken language in Maharashtra. It is also the fourth most spoken language, after Hindi, Bengali, and Telugu, in India. It ranks 19 in the list of most spoken languages in the world. Besides competitions in schools and colleges, cultural functions are also organised in offices and institutions. The celebration also includes a speech made by the governor of the state. News reports state that this is the first year that the Governor’s speech was not translated into Marathi. The Free Press Journal reports that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to tender an unconditional apology to the House for the gaffe, which he termed as “a very serious issue”. The apology followed after the Governor took up the matter with Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade soon after his speech.