Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Garba makes it to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Garba, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea

  • Garba, a traditional dance form from Gujarat, was included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • This recognition makes Garba the 15th cultural item from India to be featured on the UNESCO list, following Kolkata’s Durga Puja, which was added two years ago.

About Garba

  • What is it? Garba is a traditional dance form from Gujarat, India, primarily performed during the Navratri festival to worship the Hindu goddess Durga.
  • Origins and Meaning: The term “Garba” comes from “Garbha” (womb) and “Deep” (lamp). The dance is performed around a central lamp or a representation of the Goddess, symbolizing life, death, and rebirth.
  • Dance Style: Garba is characterized by energetic, circular movements, clapping hands, and intricate footwork, reflecting the cyclical nature of life.
  • Music and Instruments: The dance is accompanied by rhythmic music, traditionally using instruments like the dhol (drum), harmonium, and flute, with modern adaptations including electronic instruments.
  • Traditional Attire: Women wear a chaniya choli (a colorful, embroidered skirt set) and men don a kediyu and dhoti or pajama, often embellished with mirrors and embroidery.
  • Dandiya Raas Association: Garba is often followed by Dandiya Raas, another dance form using sticks (dandiyas), especially after the Aarti (worship ritual).
  • Inclusivity and Community Aspect: The dance is inclusive, attracting people of all ages and backgrounds, and emphasizing community participation.

About UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

  • ICH means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage.
  • Furthermore, its importance is not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the wealth of knowledge, know-how and skills that are transmitted from one generation to the next.
  • The adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2003 was a crucial step towards preserving intangible heritage.
  • UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was established in the year 2008.

Criteria for the selection

  • There are three criteria for an intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed in the United Nations list.
  • The entity must-
  1. be recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage,
  2. be transmitted from generation to generation and be constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history and
  3. provide them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity

India’s ICH on the UNESCO list

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi is the nodal organisation which looks after this function, and files nominations of intangible cultural entities from India, for evaluation by the international body.
  • ICG from India include Kolkata’s Durga Puja (2021), Kumbh Mela (2017), Navroz (2016), Yoga (2016), traditional brass and copper craft of utensil-making among coppersmiths of Punjab (2014), Sankirtana, a ritual musical performance of Manipur (2013), and the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh (2012).
  • Before 2011, the list included Chhau dance, Kalbelia folk songs and dance of Rajasthan, and Mudiyettu, a dance drama from Kerala (2010), Ramman, a religious festival and theatre performance of Garhwal in the Himalayas (2009), and Kutiyattam or Sanskrit theatre, and Vedic chanting (2008).
  • Ramlila, a traditional performance of Ramayana, was also included in 2008.

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