UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages in India - UPSC Art & Culture Notes

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an important organization under the United Nations. Such international bodies and programs play an important role in the IAS exam. In this article, you can read all about UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritages in India.

The World Heritage Program promotes the conservation of natural and cultural sites of universal value. India has 38 world heritage sites, including 30 cultural properties, 7 natural properties, and 1 mixed site. The latest one included is Jaipur city, Rajasthan.

International organizations and groupings are an important part of the International Relations section of the General Studies paper-2 in the UPSC Syllabus. Arts and Culture from the General Studies paper-1 section can be a scoring subject. Students preparing for UPSC 2022 and other Government Exams can find this article useful.

UPSC aspirants must know about UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Know more about UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India in the linked article. 

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages

With the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritage across the world and in order to create awareness of their significance, UNESCO established the Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

  • This list also encompasses living expressions and traditions. Intangible cultural heritage means the skills, knowledge, expressions, representations, practices – as well as the artifacts, objects, instruments, and cultural spaces associated with them that various groups, communities and in certain cases individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage. 
  • This list is published by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Its members are elected by State parties meeting in the United Nations General Assembly
  • It aims at drawing attention to the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage and is a repository of cultural diversity and creative expression.

‘Khongthong’ the country’s only ‘whistling village’ seeks to get the UNESCO Intangible and Cultural Heritage Tag. It is known as the Whistling Village because residents often communicate with each other by whistling. Residents of the village also have ‘whistling names’ apart from their formal names. 

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages List (India):- Download PDF Here

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages in India

India, known for its heritage and cultural diversity, has 13 cultural heritages in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. The below image briefly explains the Intangible Heritages of India in terms of culture:

List of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages in India

Kumbh Mela

“Kumbh Mela” was the latest addition to the list. 

  • It is one of the largest human congregations in the world. It is held in four pilgrimage places on sacred rivers in Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag.
  • Kumbh Mela was inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the 12th session held at Jeju, South Korea.

Also read Bharatanatyam – UPSC Art & Culture Notes.

National List of Intangible Cultural Heritages Draft

The Government of India launched a draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture in April 2020.

  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • It aims to raise awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at the national and international levels and ensure their protection. This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.

Read about the Draft National List of ICH in detail on PIB: 18 April 2020.

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