UNESCO has announced the vibrant living tradition of Garba on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recently inscribed ‘Garba of Gujarat’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 18th session, taking place in Kasane, Botswana from 5 to 9 December 2023.
The inclusion of Garba now makes it India’s 15th inscription on the List. To celebrate the news Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Australia organised Garba at the iconic Sydney Opera house performed by Pratik Dance Academy.
A ritualistic and devotional dance performed throughout the State of Gujarat, and across India, Garba is celebrated for nine days during the festival of Navaratri. The festival is dedicated to the worship of the divine feminine energy – Shakti.
Earlier in the year a group of enthusiastic Indian-Australian dancers had performed Garba in front of the Opera House during Navaratri celebrations.
Garba dance is among the cultural, performative, and visual expressions of ancient Shakti worship in the Indian subcontinent. Today Garba takes place within homes and temple courtyards, public spaces in villages, urban squares, streets, and large open grounds. Garba thus has become an all-encompassing participatory community event.
Over the decades Garba has been an integral, multivalent component of Gujarati culture in India and among the Indian diaspora across the globe. Garba continues to be a vibrant living tradition.
Apart from ‘Garba of Gujarat,’ some of the new inscriptions include Rickshaws and Rickshaw painting in Dhaka from Bangladesh, Songkran in Thailand, traditional Thai New Year festival from Thailand, Hiragasy, a performing art of the Central Highlands of Madagascar, Junkanoo from the Bahamas, and the Procession and celebrations of Prophet Mohammed’s birthday in Sudan, among others.