UNESCO recognises India’s garba dance and Bangladesh’s rickshaws as humanity’s cultural heritage

“Over the decades Garba has been an integral, multivalent component of Gujarati culture in India and among the Indian diaspora across the globe”, it said.

Arul Louis Dec 07, 2023
Representational Photo (Photo: Twitter)

UNESCO has declared the Garba, the folk dance of Gujarat, as “an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” (ICHH), recognising it as an inherited “living expression” that fosters inclusiveness and honours the feminine energy Shakti’. 

The committee on Wednesday also recognised Rickshaws and Rickshaw painting in Dhaka, Bangladesh also as ICHH. 

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took the decision on Wednesday at its meeting in Kasane, Botswana to inscribe Garba on its ICHH list.

“Intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation” and an understanding of it from different communities helps intercultural dialogue and mutual respect for other ways of life, UNESCO said.

“Over the decades Garba has been an integral, multivalent component of Gujarati culture in India and among the Indian diaspora across the globe”, it said.

Garba is performed during nine days of the Navaratri festival that is dedicated to the worship of the feminine energy or Shakti, UNESCO said.

The “visual expressions of this feminine energy are expressed through the Garba dance”, it added. 

“In addition to being a religious ritual, Garba fosters social equality by diluting socio-economic, gender, and rigid sect structures. It continues to be inclusive and participative by diverse and marginalised communities, strengthening community bonds", it said.

Besides monuments and objects, cultural heritage also includes “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditionsperforming artssocial practices, rituals, festive eventsknowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts”, UNESCO said explaining the ICHH.

“I hope this inscription helps ensure the viability of this tradition and inspires the community, particularly young people, to continue with the knowledge, skills and oral traditions associated with Garba”, said Tim Curtis, the director of UNESCO’s regional office in New Delhi.

Garba joins 12 from India on the ICHH list as well as Nowroz, which is shared with other countries.

Those on the list from India include the tradition of Vedic chantingChhau danceMudiyettu dance drama of Kerala, Ramlila performance, Buddhist chanting of Ladakh, and Durga Puja of West Bengal. 


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