ISLAMABAD: Anthropologists, community leaders and social activists on Saturday called for preserving the indigenous languages of Chitral, besides the local folklore, music which are the assets of intangible heritage of the valleys of this area.
Artistes from Chitral presented tunes and dances which face extinction with the advancement of contemporary culture in the valley that had remained cut off from the world in the past.
The notes of endangered Khowar language of Chitral took the imagination of the listeners to the slopes of Hindukush where golden eagle float through the air as Himalayan black bear and snow leopards roam around while markhor and ibex pounce about in the pristine environment.
Pakistan National Council of the Arts and Chitral Youth Forum (CYF) in collaboration with Khowar Folk Band had organised the cultural show at the PNCA where renowned artists, vocalists, poets and instrumentalists from different parts of Chitral performed various types of endangered music tunes of Khowar language.
The colourful event which was held as a part of efforts to preserve and promote the musical heritage of the Khowar language was divided into two parts. In the first session, the poetry symposium was graced by renowned and senior literary figures and poets from different parts of Chitral districts.
In the next part of the event, local singers presented folk tunes like Ghoru, Hup Gye, Lowah, Dok Yakhdees, Hasham Begum, Nano Baigal, Ghalwar, Nandoshi, Saeedogh, Qoqnoos, Shodong and many more which are on the verge of becoming extinct.
The songs were accompanied by reed instruments and the pure Chitrali Sitar, Duff and pasture flute. Thereafter, dancers entertained the audience with their traditional dances of Nohtik and Phastek, and Ishtok which was only practiced in remote areas of upper Chitral.
Wajid Bukhari was the chief guest of the event. Other notables present on the occasion were MNA Amer Kiyani, MPA from the Kalash community Wazirzada and Aga Khan Foundation Development expert Shahzad Ali Haider.
Speaking on the occasion, CYF President Asif Ali Taj said folklores were important sources of information for studying the history and culture of past civilisations and urged the need for preserving folk songs and the ethos of folk art of Khowar language.
He noted that Chitral has been a centre of rich cultural diversity. More than 12 different languages are spoken in the two districts. One of the oldest parts of this diverse culture is the musical heritage of this area which is centuries old.
“Different kinds of folk music and folk tunes are feared to be extinct. Chitral Youth Forum and Khowar Folk Band is striving to preserve sound documents of public performances for future generations, and to preserve as far as possible the integrity of the performances,” said Mr Taj.
Bukhari during his speech stressed the need to preserve the endangered folk tunes of Khowar language.
“When a language goes extinct, a nation’s culture, history and knowledge goes with it. Therefore, the government should take tangible steps and collaborate with the civil society organizations to work for the preservation and promotion of the local languages like Khowar,” said Bukhari.