UN to launch project to inventory India’s intangible heritage

The United Nations is set to launch a project on creating an “inventory” of art forms, craftsmanship and other intangible cultural heritage of the country.

art and culture Updated: Oct 28, 2018 15:50 IST
Press Trust of India
United Nations,UN,Culture
The United Nations is working on a project that will create an inventory of India’s intangible cultural heritage. (Wikimedia Commons)

Concerned over the “disappearance” of many intangible legacy of India over time, the UN will soon launch a project on creating an “inventory” of art forms, craftsmanship and other intangible cultural heritage of the country.

UN Resident Coordinator in India Yuri Afanasiev said the “wiki-styled project” involving multiple stakeholders is planned to be executed, among other means, through “crowd-sourcing”. “India is endowed with not just with wealth of iconic monuments and landmarks and built heritage, but also home to countless intangible cultural heritage, like folk music, art forms, textile design, craftsmanship,” he said.

But, a number of these intangible cultural heritage are “disappearing” on a daily basis and it “pains me”, the UN official said. “We at UN India, are working on a project that will seek to create an inventory of intangible cultural heritage. We will take help of crowd-sourcing as well,” said Afanasiev.

On October 24, the United Nations had dedicated its iconic campus here to India’s cultural heritage as its office in New Delhi marked the UN Day with a dazzling display of the country’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. A total of 13 intangible cultural heritage elements from India have been inscribed till date on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

These include the Kumbh Mela, Novruz, Tradition of Vedic chanting, Ramlila, Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre; Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas; Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan; and Chhau dance.

“A simple tradition of producing handcrafted sarees in a small town, a folk song in a village in a corner of the country, a recipe crafted by someone’s mother or grandmother, which may be disappearing because the next generation has migrated to other, big cities,” he said.

“And, this project, tentatively dubbed — a snapshot inventory of intangible cultural heritage — seeks to capture them in a capsule of sorts, for the posterity. So, it could be documenting the sounds, sights, techniques, styles, though photographs or other audio-visual medium,” Afanasiev said.

He said the project duration will span a year. He also said UN, besides engaging with its own agencies like UNESCO and UNDP, will also collaborate with several ministries, such as the ministry of culture and ministry of textiles.

On UN Day, Afanasiev had hailed India’s cultural diversity, saying, “I personally have a love affair with India, its rich taste, colours, sounds, smells and food.” The UN House has been revived as the site for the safeguarding of the history of the seven-decade-long India-UN partnership and of India’s great contributions to the UN, he said.

“We are equally proud to dedicate this compound to India’s cultural heritage, and the vibrant plural developmental traditions of the country that will provide the right environment for thinking about the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” Afanasiev said.

UN House is an iconic landmark, one of the buildings designed by noted American architect Joseph Allen Stein in Lodhi Estate area, the others being India International Centre and India Habitat Centre. Srishti Kaur, 20, a winner of a national beauty pageant in teen category in 2017, was among the invitees at the UN Day. She said she runs a clothing line in Noida that promotes khadi and cotton. “We as youth must take pride in our cultural heritage and promote it,” Kaur said.

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First Published: Oct 28, 2018 15:43 IST