UP Study Notes: UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage in India

By Ashutosh Yadav|Updated : September 24th, 2020

UNESCO established Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. This list is published by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and its members are elected by State parties meeting in UN General Assembly. Kumbh Mela is the latest entry into the list from India which was listed in 2017.

UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage in India

1

Koodiyattam, Sanskrit Theatre, Kerala

2

Mudiyett: a ritual theatre of Kerala

3

The Tradition of Vedic Chanting

4

Ramlila – the Traditional Performance of the Ramayana

5

Ramman: religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas

6

Kalbelia: folk songs and dances of Rajasthan

7

Chhau dance: a tradition from eastern India

8

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh

9

Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

10

Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab

11

Yoga

12

Nowruz Navruz

13

Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela

  • Kumbh Mela (the festival of the sacred Pitcher) is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth, during which participants bathe or take a dip in a sacred river.
  • Inscribed in 2017.

Nowruz

  • Inscribed in the list in 2016.
  • March 21 marks the start of the year in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • It is referred to as Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Novruz, Nowrouz or Nowruz meaning ‘new day’ when a variety of rituals, ceremonies and other cultural events take place for a period of about two weeks.

Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab

  • Inscribed in the list in 2014.
  • The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru constitutes the traditional technique of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab.
  • The metals used – copper, brass and certain alloys – are believed to be beneficial for health. 

Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

  • Inscribed in the list in 2013.
  • Sankirtana encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people of the Manipur plains.
  • Sankirtana practices centre on the temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Krishna through song and dance.
  • In a typical performance, two drummers and about ten singer-dancers perform in a hall or domestic courtyard encircled by seated devotees.

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: the recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir

  • Inscribed in the list in 2012.
  • In the monasteries and villages of the Ladakh region, Buddhist lamas (priests) chant sacred texts representing the spirit, philosophy and teachings of the Buddha.
  • Two forms of Buddhism are practised in Ladakh – Mahayana and Vajrayana – and there are four major sects, namely Nyngma, Kagyud, Shakya and Geluk.
  • Each sect has several forms of chanting, practised during life-cycle rituals and on important days in the Buddhist and agrarian calendars.

Chhau dance

  • Inscribed in the list in 2010.
  • Chhau dance is a tradition from eastern India that enacts episodes from epics including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, local folklore and abstract themes.
  • Its three distinct styles hail from the regions of Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj, the first two using masks.
  • Chhau dance is intimately connected to regional festivals, notably the spring festival Chaitra Parva.
  • Chhau is taught to male dancers from families of traditional artists or from local communities.
  • The dance is performed at night in an open space to traditional and folk melodies, played on the reed pipes mohuri and shehnai.

Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan

  • Inscribed in the list in 2010
  • Songs and dances are an expression of the Kalbelia community’s traditional way of life.

Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala

  • Inscribed in the list in 2010
  • Mudiyettu is a ritual dance-drama from Kerala based on the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika.
  • It is a community ritual in which the entire village participates.

Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India

  • Inscribed in the list in 2009.
  • Every year in late April, the twin villages of Saloor-Dungra in the state of Uttarakhand (northern India) are marked by Ramman, a religious festival in honour of the tutelary god, Bhumiyal Devta, a local divinity whose temple houses most of the festivities.
  • This event is made up of highly complex rituals: the recitation of a version of the epic of Rama and various legends, and the performance of songs and masked dances.

Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre

  • Inscribed in the list in 2008.
  • Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre, which is practised in the province of Kerala, is one of India’s oldest living theatrical traditions.
  • In its stylized and codified theatrical language, neta abhinaya (eye expression) and hasta abhinaya (the language of gestures) are prominent.

The tradition of Vedic chanting

  • Inscribed in the list in 2008.

Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana

  • Inscribed in the list in 2008.

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Ashutosh YadavAshutosh YadavMember since Aug 2020
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