Kumbh Mela recognises as India's cultural heritage by UNESCO

Sergio Conner
December 8, 2017

The decision was made at the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage taking place at the island's International Convention Center from December 4-9.

The external affairs ministry on Thursday said the recognition was accorded by the Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, an entity which works under UNESCO. Its 12th session has been conducted in Jeju, South Korea. The annual congregation of pilgrims was one of the 33 new additions this year. The meeting, which opened on December 4 will end on December 9.

The Kumbh Mela at Ujjain began in the 18th century, when the Maratha ruler Ranoji Shinde invited ascetics from Nashik to Ujjain for a local festival.[18] Like the priests at Allahabad, the pandits of Nashik and Ujjain, competing with other places for a sacred status, may have adopted the Kumbh tradition for their pre-existing melas.

"As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh Mela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world", the MEA said in its statement.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said it is "a matter of enormous joy and pride for India" that the Kumbh Mela was declared as India's "Intangible Cultural Heritage" by UNESCO. "A very proud moment for us", Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma tweeted.

The Kumbh Mela joins new elements from Botswana, Colombia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the UNESCO list.

Intangible cultural heritage 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 recognise as a part of their cultural heritage.

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