UNESCO recognises Kumbh Mela as India’s cultural heritage

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India’s Kumbh Mela has been recognised by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”, a tweet posted on Thursday by the international organisation said.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the UN body inscribed Kumbh Mela on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” at its 12th session in Jeju, South Korea. The meeting, which opened on December 4, will end on December 9.

Kumbh Mela, considered the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims, joins new elements from Botswana, Colombia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the list.

“A very proud moment for us as sacred Kumbh Mela is just inscribed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma tweeted.

The inscription of elements on the list helps countries, which are a part of UNESCO’s convention for safeguarding cultural heritage to mobilise international cooperation and assistance for ensuring that communities continue to practise and transmit such aspects of their heritage.

The Kumbh Mela, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and cleansing in holy rivers.

The inscription of Kumbh Mela was recommended by the expert body, which examines in detail nominations submitted by Member States.

The Committee also took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to Kumbh Mela are transmitted through the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student relationship) by way of saints and sadhus teaching their disciples about traditional rituals and chants.

“Kumbh Mela is considered to be the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth, attended by millions irrespective of caste, creed or gender,” Sharma tweeted.