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Unesco recognises Kumbh Mela as India's cultural heritage

DH News Service, New Delhi, Dec 8 2017, 0:04 IST
The Kumbh Mela, arguably one of the biggest religious congregations in India.

The Kumbh Mela, arguably one of the biggest religious congregations in India.

Unesco has recognised Kumbh Mela as an "intangible cultural heritage of humanity".

Kumbh Mela is one of the 33 new elements, which an inter-governmental committee set up by the Unesco, has added to the representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity during its 12th session held at Jeju in South Korea this week.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation had earlier recognised yoga and Nowruz (Parsi New Year) of India as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

"Kumbh Mela, the festival of the 'sacred pitcher', is a peaceful congregation of pilgrims, during which participants bathe or take a dip in a sacred river. The congregation includes ascetics, saints, sadhus, aspirants, kalpavasis and visitors," Unesco posted on its website.

The UN organisation also stated that the tradition of Kumbh Mela played "a central spiritual role" in India, encapsulating a diverse range of cultural customs.

"Knowledge and skills relating to Kumbh Mela are mainly imparted through the teacher-student relationship, but transmission and safeguarding are also ensured through oral traditions and religious and historical texts," it added.

The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual-cleansing in the holy rivers of India. It is a social ritual and festive event closely linked to the community's perception of its own history and memory, the Ministry of External Affairs stated in New Delhi on Thursday.

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