Delhi delay on UNESCO tag to Sankirtana peeves Guv

Voicing resentment over the inordinate delay in giving official recognition to Manipuri Sankirtana, years after it has been included in the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla has pledged to pursue the matter with the authorities concerned.

Speaking as chief guest of the 4th International Sankirtan Day celebration held on Monday at Lamyanba Shanglen, Palace Compound here, Dr Heptulla conveyed that she had written to the office of UNESCO, New Delhi enquiring as to why the Certificate of Recognition is still not issued to Manipuri Sankirtana even though it was included among the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.

Stating that she feels proud to be part of the rich cultural heritage of Manipur and cherishes the recognition granted by UNESCO to Sankirtana, the Governor pledged to notify the matter to the authority concerned for giving the official consent.

While eulogising on the diverse and rich cultural diversities of Manipur, she also stressed the need for establishing a dedicated research centre in Manipur University of Culture to formulate a project with a detailed approach paper on documentation of Sankirtana including its historical, sociological, ethno-musical and folkloristic origins.

Further stating that she has held discussion with Union government leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MEA minister Sushma Swaraj and Central ministers concerned for necessary assistance in the development of Manipuri Sankirtana and other cultural elements, Dr Heptulla expressed confidence that her endeavour will generate positive response from the Centre.
The International Sankirtan Day which was organised by the Celebration Committee in collaboration with Shree Shree Govindaji Nat Sankirtana Academy, Palace Compound to commemorate the day when Manipuri Sankirtana was recognised among the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was also attended by titular king of Manipur Leisemba Sanajaoba as special guest.

Noting that Manipuri Sankirtana was enlisted as an intangible cultural heritage on the same day that the UNESCO accorded world heritage site to the Great Wall of China, Leisemba Sanajaoba said that he has information about the Certificate of Recognition put on display at the first gate of the Great Wall of China within short notice.

As such, similar document yet to be provided in the case of Manipuri Sankirtana is disheartening for the people of Manipur and the cultural artistes and exponents in particular, he expressed.
Referring to the epochal moment being observed under the initiative of a handful of cultural organisations since 2014 and the financial constraints that the organisations have been facing, the titular king proposed that the government should take proactive role in the celebration.

Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Y Khemchand, MLAs Th Satyabrata Singh (Yaiskul), N Indrajit Singh (Kshetrigao) and Soibam Subhaschandra (Naoriya Pakhanglakpa) also attended the function.

As a part of the celebration, cultural programmes such as Guru Vandana, Jhal Cholom, Pung Cholom, Khubak Ishei and others were showcased by different troupes while mementos were presented to Gurus as token of respect for the service rendered in their respective fields.

Manipuri Sankirtana, comprising ritual singing, drumming and dancing, nominated from India, was among the 14 elements inscribed on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and announced at the eighth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan, held from December 2 to 7, 2013.

The Representative List seeks to create awareness about the intangible heritage of a community, provide recognition to its tradition and how it is reflected in the community’s cultural diversity.
The UNESCO recognised Sankirtana as maintained by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, encompassing an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of Vaishnav people of Manipur plains.

It is practised at the centre of a temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Krishna through songs and dance, it mentioned, adding that the dignity and flow of aesthetic and religious energy is unparalleled, moving audience members to tears.

Sankirtana brings people together on festive occasions throughout the year, acting as a cohesive force within Manipur’s Vaishnav community. It establishes and reinforces relationships between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies, the UNESCO recognition document further mentioned.

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