Garba of Gujarat gets UNESCO certification as India’s cultural heritage

Garba of Gujarat gets UNESCO certification as India’s cultural heritage
Courtesy: Hindustan Times / Hindustan Times Via Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the celebrations over the global recognition of Garba, the traditional dance form from Gujarat, this week.
Garba has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List, with the Certificate of Inscription presented in France recently.

"Garba is a celebration of life, culture and devotion. It also brings people together. It is gladdening to note that Garba's global popularity on the rise,” said PM Modi, as he shared photographs of a massive Garba gathering in Paris.

Garba of Gujarat was inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity by UNESCO, under the provisions of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage during the 18th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in December last year in Kasane, Botswana.

The Indian Ministry of Culture said Garba of Gujarat is the 15th such heritage from India to join this list, which includes the world-famous Kumbh Mela of Rajasthan, Durga Puja of Kolkata and Yoga.

Garba is described as a ritualistic and devotional dance that is performed on the occasion of the of Navaratri festival. The dance takes place around a perforated earthenware pot lit with an oil lamp, or an image of the Mother Goddess Amba.

Participating dancers move around the centre in a counter clockwise circle, using simple movements while singing and clapping their hands in unison. The Gujarati dance starts with slow circular movements and the tempo slowly builds up to a frenzied whirling. It is hugely popular around the world, led by the massive Gujarati diaspora in different countries.


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The UNESCO listing reads: “The practitioners and bearers of Garba are broad and inclusive, from the dancers to the musicians, social groups, craftspeople and religious figures involved in the festivities and preparations. Garba is transmitted across generations in urban and rural areas through practice, performance, imitation, and observation.

“Many schools and universities offer professional courses and workshops in dance, music, costume and ornament design, landscape planning, sound and light design, all of which contribute to Garba creations. The practice is also transmitted by NGOs, government agencies, choreographers, musicians and the media. Garba fosters social equality by diluting socio-economic, gender and religious structures. It continues to be inclusive of diverse and marginalised communities, thus strengthening social bonds.”


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