UNESCO recognizes Kumbh Mela as an Intangible Cultural Heritage

On December 2017, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has included ´Kumbh Mela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“Intangible heritage” refers to “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices and rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts,” which communities across the world associate with their culture, and pass on from generation to generation.

According to the UNESCO’s website, Kumbh Mela made the list because it is the “largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on Earth”, and the event "encapsulates the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, ritualistic traditions, and social and cultural customs and practices, making it extremely rich in knowledge.”

As it is held in four different cities in India, it involves different social and cultural activities, making this a culturally diverse festival. Knowledge and skills related to the tradition are transmitted through ancient religious manuscripts, oral traditions, historical travelogues and texts produced by eminent historians. However, the teacher-student relationship of the sadhus in the ashrams and akhadas remains the most important method of imparting and safeguarding the ancient tradition of the Kumbh Mela.

Learn more: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/kumbh-mela-01258