Gujarat’s Garba dance earns spot in UNESCO’s heritage list

KASANE, Botswana: A TRADITIONAL dance form of Gujarat, Garba, earned a spot on the list of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage.

This inclusion aligns with the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, marking Garba as the 15th cultural element from India to receive this prestigious recognition.

This prestigious recognition was granted during the 18th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Kasane, Botswana.

The Indian-Tanzania community, along with the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre Director, Soumya Chavan said this inscription underscores Garba’s pivotal role as a unifying force that fosters social and gender inclusivity.

“Garba as a dance form is entrenched deeply in ritualistic and devotional roots, involving people from all walks of life and it continues to thrive as a vibrant living tradition bringing communities together.”

Adding, Chavan said Garba is a celebration of life, unity, and 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.”

She noted that Garba plays a pivotal role in promoting social and gender inclusivity. An official release stressed the dance form’s enduring vibrancy, which brings diverse communities together in a celebration of cultural richness.

The Theatrical Director, Sonal said Garba’s symbolic representation of celebration, devotion, gender inclusivity and social equality, transcends geographical boundaries.

She said the inscription of Garba in UNESCO’s prestigious list is seen as a testament to the relentless efforts led by the government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to showcase India’s rich cultural heritage to the global community.

UNESCO, in its statement, described Garba, the folk dance of Gujerat, as a devotional and ritualistic art performed throughout the state and the rest of India.

The dance is a prominent feature during Navratri, an annual nine-day festival dedicated to the Goddess Mother and the primordial feminine energy.

The official statement issued by UNESCO added, “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 dancers, dressed in vibrant traditional attire, begin the dance slowly, moving in a circle around an image or sculpture of the goddess, singing and clapping their hands.

The dance gradually increases in tempo, with participants moving and clapping faster towards the end. Despite being rooted in Gujarati heritage, Garba attracts enthusiastic participants almost all over the country.

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