Indian folk forms in contention for intangible heritage status

Indian folk forms in contention for intangible heritage status

An Intergovernmental Committee set to meet from November 15 to 19 in Kenya's capital Nairobi, will decide whether to inscribe 51 proposals of traditional songs, dances and cultural art forms from around the world on two heritage lists of the United Nations' cultural arm.

The two lists that will add new elements are the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Indian heritage forms are among 47 nominations proposed for inscription on the second list, which already has 166 elements from 77 countries.

Chhau dance is a traditional tribal dance popular in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa states. It is a genre of martial tribal dance and its performances are often based on epic stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Mudiyettu, meanwhile, is a ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala, and is regarded as one of the oldest forms of theatre in the state.

Also among the proposals is the Kalbeliya dance form traditionally performed by Rajasthan's snake charmer community.

Among the proposals for the second list are the Peking Opera, Aalst Carnival in Belgium, the Wayuu normative system in Colombia, the traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan in Iran, and falconry, which is presented by 11 countries, UNESCO said in a statement.

Proposals for the inscription must justify protective measures taken to ensure their viability, besides complying with a number of other criteria.

The committee will also consider from among four proposed items from China and Croatia -- the Chinese printing with wooden movable type, the technique of leak-proof partitions of Chinese junks, Meshrep in China and Ojkanje singing in Croatia -- what to include this year on the list of intangible heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.

The heritage in need of urgent safeguarding is a list of cultural elements whose viability is at risk despite efforts of the communities that practice them and it requires the submitting nations to pledge plans for their conservation.

Once the items are included in the list, they may then benefit from financial assistance from a UNESCO- managed Fund.

The list is recognised under a convention for safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage that was adopted in 2003 for conservation of oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, besides know-how related to traditional handicrafts, among other such elements.

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