Garba, the famed folk art of Gujarat, earned the coveted intangible cultural heritage of humanity (ICH) tag from the Unesco on Wednesday.
The agenda to confer ICH tag to Gujarat’s ‘garba’, the world’s longest dance festival, was adopted during the 18th session of the intergovernmental committee of Unesco for the safeguarding of ICH at Kasane in the Republic of Botswana amidst cheers and claps from the Indian delegation.
The festival of Gujarat in which lakhs of revellers swirl to the tunes of ‘dhols’, music and folk songs in colourful attire like chaniya cholis, ghagras and kediyas during the Navratri has become the first ICH of Gujarat.
On March 9, 2022, the TOI was the first to report that efforts to get the ICH tag had started in Gujarat’s cultural capital Vadodara.
After the Union ministry of culture appointed MS University as the nodal agency last year, a dossier was prepared by research scholars from Vadodara and Ahmedabad within a month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the nation on the global recognition of garba.
“Garba is a celebration of life, unity and our deep-rooted traditions. Its inscription on the Intangible Heritage List showcases to the world the beauty of Indian culture. This honour inspires us to preserve and promote our heritage for future generations. Congrats for this global acknowledgement,” he said in a post on X.
Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel hailed the Unesco ICH tag saying that the age-old tradition of devotion to Goddess Mother was alive and growing.
“This is a moment of pride for Gujaratis spread all over the world. This is a result of importance being given to the heritage of the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and such heritage being taken to the world.
On Wednesday, at Botswana, chairperson of the evaluation body Nigel Encalada said, “India has nominated ‘garba’ of Gujarat, a ritualistic and devotional dance that is performed on the occasion of Hindu festival of Navratri, which is dedicated to the worship of the feminine energy or ‘Shakti’.”
It takes place around a perforated earthen pot lit with an oil lamp or an image of Mother Goddess Amba. “Garba fosters social equality by transcending socio-economic, gender and religious structures. It is inclusive of diverse and marginalized communities, thus strengthening social bonds,” he said. Vice-chairperson of the evaluation body backed India’s nomination and said, “This element is recommended for the inscription on the representative list.” As Mustaq Moorad, chairperson of the committee, declared that the draft decision by the evaluation body has been adopted, the announcement was welcomed with huge applause. “Congratulations India,” he said.
“Namaste, Kem Cho!” said an overjoyed Vishal Sharma, ambassador and permanent representative of India to Unesco. “This day will be remembered as the day of celebration for the countries where the Indian diaspora lives,” he said.
He ended his speech with a line in Gujarati: “Garba e Gujarat ni bhavna che (Garba exhibits the spirit of Gujarat)”. On December 15, 2021, Unesco had accorded ICH status to Kolkata’s Durga puja.