Garba joins UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage
08 December 2023
UNESCO has inscribed the popular Gujarati folk dance Garba on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This week’s inclusion of Garba makes it India’s 15th inscription on the List, joining a group of more than 700 that includes yoga, calligraphy and pizza-making, among others.
A ritualistic and devotional dance, Garba is particularly celebrated for nine days during the festival of Navaratri. The festival is dedicated to the worship of the feminine energy or Shakti. Garba takes place within homes and temple courtyards, public spaces in villages, urban squares, streets, and large open grounds. Garba thus becomes an all-encompassing participatory community event.
Tim Curtis, Director of UNESCO’s New Delhi Regional Office for South Asia and UNESCO Representative for Bhutan, India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka, welcomed the news.
“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,” he said.
Over the decades Garba has been an integral and living component of Gujarati culture in India and among the global Indian diaspora. 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 marginalized communities, strengthening community bonds.
The inscription of Garba took place in Botswana on 6 December during the 18th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The session is evaluating 45 nominations for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, among other nominations submitted by State Parties for inscription on the Lists of the Convention,
Apart from Garba, other new inscriptions this week on the Representative Lisdt of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity include Rickshaws and Rickshaw painting in Dhaka (Bangladesh), a folk music festival Junkanoo (the Bahamas) and opera-singing (Italy).
The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was created to enhance the viability of communities’ cultural practices and know-how, and therefore safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of communities globally.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization