UNESCO declares Gujarat’s Garba as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’


Following UNESCO’s inclusion of Gujarat’s Garba in its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that the traditional dance is not only for Gujarat but for the world. In a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Jaishankar said that he is delighted that UNESCO has inscribed Garba on its representative list of intangible cultural heritage.

“Garba of Gujarat. For the world,” said Jaishankar as he posted a video of himself attending a Garba event. “Delighted that @UNESCO has inscribed Garba in the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Garba, the famed traditional dance form of Gujarat, was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, UNESCO posted, “New inscription on the Intangible Heritage List: Garba of Gujarat, India. Congratulations!”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat, said that Garba is a celebration of life, unity and our deep-rooted traditions. In a post on X, PM Modi wrote, “Garba is a celebration of life, unity and our deep-rooted traditions. Its inscription on the Intangible Heritage List showcases to the world the beauty of Indian culture. This honour inspires us to preserve and promote our heritage for future generations. Congrats for this global acknowledgement.”

The decision was made during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, underway at the Cresta Mowana Resort in Kasane, Botswana. The session, which began on December 4 is scheduled to conclude on December 9, according to UNESCO. Garba is a ritualistic and devotional dance that is performed on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Navaratri.

The dance takes place around a perforated earthenware pot lit with an oil lamp, or an image of the mother goddess Amba. Participating dancers move around the centre in a counter-clockwise circle, using simple movements while singing and clapping their hands in unison.

The Gujarati dance starts with slow circular movements and the tempo slowly builds up to a frenzied whirling. As of January 2022, a total of 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) elements are inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

These include the traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru in Punjab, the Nawrouz festival, the Kumbh Mela, the Durga Puja of Kolkata, Ramlila and Vedic Chants.

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