TODAY -

Nat Sankirtana nominated for UNESCO cultural list
Source: The Sangai Express / TNN

Guwahati, November 02 2013 : The Nat Sankirtana - the ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur - is the only Indian entry among 31 nominations to be decided for inscription on the Representative List of the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The final decision will be taken at the eighth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee, which consists of 24 member countries, at Baku, Azerbaijan, from December 2 to 7 .

A subsidiary body - comprising Spain, Czech Repu- blic, Peru, Japan, Nigeria and Morocco - was formed in December last year for evalua- tion of the nominations.

State government officials said the body is satisfied with the criteria of Sankritana for inscription on the Representative List.

The criteria include the art being transmitted from generation to generation through formal and traditional education.

Sankirtana music and dance reinforce the social and spiritual cohesion among Vaishnavites of Manipur.

The body agreed that inscription of Sankirtana on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of in- tangible cultural heritage while encouraging inter-cultural dialogue and promoting respect for cultural diversity.



File picture of a Nat Sankirtan performance
File picture of a Nat Sankirtan performance


It also proposed safeguarding measures like research projects, documentation, awareness-raising activities and education programmes with the involvement of the bearers of Sankritana and na-tional institutions.

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

After the declaration of "Kutiyattam: Sanskrit Theatre", "Tradition of Vedic Chanting" and "Ramlila: Traditional Performance of the Ramayana" as masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage by UNESCO, the central government launched a special scheme for preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage in India, which is managed by the Akademi.

If Sankirtana is inscribed on the Representative List, it will receive support under this special scheme.

Sankirtana is practised by the Vaishnavite community of Manipur and Manipuris living in Tripura and Assam.

Starting with ritual observances, which involve singing and dancing in temples, it encompasses an array of arts performed in homes and streets.

The performers narrate the lives and deeds of Lord 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 viability of Sankritana is ensured by social support that has kept the art alive through centuries.

Every Vaishnavite Manipuri is involved with the form, either as a performer or patron.

King Bhagyachandra, who conceived the Nata-sankirtana form, was himself a great performer.

Sankirtana has two main social functions - it brings people together on festive occasions throughout the year by acting as a cohesive force and reinforces relationship between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies.


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