NEW DELHI: Kumbh Mela, a unique feature of Indian religious traditions, has found a place in the Unesco list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. The UN cultural body has recognised the Mela as “the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth”.
Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma tweeted, “A very proud moment for us as sacred Kumbh Mela is just inscribed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.”
Officials of his ministry said Unesco’s Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage decided to recognise the Kumbh Mela during its 12th session at Jeju in South Korea, being held from December 4 to 9.
Kumbh Mela just inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Congratulations, #India #IntangibleHeritage #12COM— UNESCO (@UNESCO) December 7, 2017
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“It is a culturally diverse festival” where “knowledge and skills related to the tradition are transmitted through ancient religious manuscripts, oral traditions, historical travelogues and texts produced by eminent historians”, said the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ website.
The UNESCO committee took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to the Mela are transmitted through the guru-shishya parampara by way of saints teaching their disciples about rituals and chants.
“The element is compatible with existing international human rights instruments since people from all walks of life, without any discrimination, participate in the Mela with equal fervour. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh demonstrates are valuable for the contemporary world,” said a ministry official.
According to Hindu mythology, during a battle between Gods and Demons over a pitcher containing nectar of immortality (Amrit), a few drops fell at four locations—Hardwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik-—where the Kumbh is held every four years.
In 2003, the Unesco General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage as an international treaty acknowledging that cultural heritage is more than tangible places, monuments and objects; it also encompasses traditions and living expressions.