Islamabad - As a vocalist started singing “Sha Mubarakbad”, a traditional song, it was enough prompting the community elders of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), wearing hand-woven woollen stuffed caps and long coats, to start dancing in enjoyment.

It was the opening of two-day colourful mega event, “Culture for Peace and Pluralism” to mark International Mother Language Day 2015 at Open Air Theatre Shakarparian on Saturday. All the participants represented G-B and Chitral who are based in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Prominent artists and performers presented folk songs, traditional dances, besides the presentations of local cuisines and crafts, to showcase the rich cultural heritage of G-B and Chitral. Initiative for Promotion of Pamiri Arts and Culture (IPPAC) has organised the vent which is striving for the preservation and promotions of the unique and endangered culture and languages of mountain communities.

Manzoor Baltistani, a talent from Baltistan who has represented the region at various national and international platforms sung in Balti Language. He has the honour of being the student of the legendary classical singer Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. “I really enjoyed the mesmerising voice of Manzoor Baltistani; very often we have opportunity to watch such shows,” said Himmat Akbar, a student of Islamic International University Islamabad who basically hails from Ghizer district of G-B.

Sheraz Badshah performed some new flavour of Chitrali music which was a blend of both traditional and modern rhythm.

Raja Mohammad Ali, a legendary famous Balti singer, came all the way from Skardu to captivate the participants through his powerful voice and beautiful Balti folk tunes.

Zeshan, a young artist played “Dadang” (drum) who received great appreciation from the participants while some artists also played Taroe and Sunarai (pipes).

Amongst other singers and artist were, Islam Habib, Jabir Khan Jabir, Qazi and Dedarul Amin Group performed on the stage. The vocalists sung in local languages like Shina, Chitrali, Balti, Domaki and Khowar etc.

According to DW Baig, the director of IPPAC, his organisation has been active for the last five years to preserve the dying language of G-B and Chitral. “There are from 25 to 30 languages in G-B and Chitral; some of the small languages there are endangered; if no efforts are made about their preservation such language would die out,” he told The Nation.

Apart from such events on Mother Language Day, IPPAC also arranges seminars and cultural programmes to preserve the language and other ingredients of G-B and Chitral cultures. “To preserve a language, one of the best ways the performance of folk artists; we invite folk artists here and gather the settlers of Northern Areas in twin cities to know about their culture,” said Baig.

Every year the United Nation and people all around the world celebrate “International Mother Language Day” on February 21 which was proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999. According to UN, “More than 50%, of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world, are likely to die out within a few generations; and 96% of these languages are spoken by a mere four percent of the world’s population.

Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given pride of place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.” Besides major languages like Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Seriaki, Urdu and Balochi, dozens of other languages are being spoken in Pakistan.

However, according to experts a number of smalls languages spoken in Pakistan are likely to die out within a few next generations. Experts are of the opinion that some of the small languages would die even within next two to three decades as such languages are no more being used as a medium of instructions.