UNESCO recognises Kumbh Mela as India’s cultural heritage
- Indias Kumbh Mela has been recognised by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” and held up as the worlds largest peaceful gathering of pilgrims.
- The decision to recognise the Kumbh Mela was taken at its ongoing meeting in Jeju, South Korea.
- The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO inscribed the Kumbh Mela on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The committee observed that Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth. The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India.
The committee also took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to the Kumbh Mela were transmitted through the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student relationship) by way of saints and sadhus teaching their disciples about traditional rituals and chants.
The Kumbh Mela joins new elements from Botswana, Colombia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the UNESCO list
What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?
An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.
The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State