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Sankritana of Manipur inscribes for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Manipur Information Centre, New Delhi
NEW DELHI , December 5:  “Sankirtana: ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur” nominated from India was among 14 elements inscribed on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on December 4 at the ongoing  eighth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan on December 2-7, 2013.

Sources from UNESCO said that the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity served to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provided recognition to communities’ traditions and know-how that reflected their cultural diversity.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage consists of 24 representatives from the States Parties elected by the General Assembly of States Parties. The committee members are Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Grenada, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, Tunisia, Uganda and Uruguay.

Sankirtana is included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and extensively documented by the Akademi and other institutions.

Sankirtana encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious  occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people of the Manipur plains. Sankirtana practices centre on the temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Krishna through song and dance. In a typical performance, two drummers and about ten singer-dancers perform in a hall or domestic courtyard encircled by seated devotees. The dignity and flow of aesthetic and religious energy is unparalleled, moving audience members to tears and frequently to prostrate themselves before the performers.

Sankirtana has two main social functions: it brings people together on festive occasions throughout the year, acting as a cohesive force within Manipur’s Vaishnava community; and it establishes and reinforces relationships between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies. It is thus regarded as the visible manifestation of God. The Sankirtana of Manipur is a vibrant practice promoting an organic relationship with people: the whole society is involved in its safeguarding, with the specific knowledge and skills traditionally transmitted from mentor to disciple. Sankirtana works in harmony with the natural world, whose presence is acknowledged through its many rituals.

The viability of the element has been ensured by social support that has kept the art alive through centuries. Every Manipuri of Vaishnava faith is involved with the form, either as a performer or patron. King Bhagyachandra, who conceived the Nata-Sankirtana form, was himself a great performer.

Intangible cultural heritage refers to living practices and expressions passed down from generation to generation. These living traditions are constantly recreated by communities in response to their environment, their relationship with nature and their history. The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage advocates a participatory approach to the safeguarding of living heritage. It places individuals and communities at the heart of efforts to ensure its viability. In this way, intangible cultural heritage can become a fundamental factor in sustainability, a catalyst for meaning and energy, a source of creativity and innovation, and a resource to meet new challenges and find appropriate solutions.

            Intangible Cultural Heritage includes oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

It may be mentioned that after the inscription of “Kutiyattam: Sanskrit Theatre”, “Tradition of Vedic Chanting” and “Ramlila: Tradional Performance of the Ramayana” as masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage by UNESCO, the Government of India has launched a special scheme for the preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage in India, which is managed by Sangeet Natak Akademi.  Sankirtana of Manipur, which has been inscribed on the Representative List of UNESCO, will receive substantial support under this special scheme.

Posted by Imphal Dispatch on 21:38. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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