Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Current Affairs - 2020

Prayagraj Kumbha Mela 2019 makes it to the Guinness World Records

The Prayagraj Kumbh Mela 2019 has made into Guinness World Records in the following three sectors:

  • Largest traffic and crowd management plan.
  • Biggest painting exercise of public sites under paint my city scheme.
  • Biggest sanitation and waste disposal mechanism.

Kumbha Mela

Kumbh Mela, the festival of the sacred pitcher is the largest public gathering and collective act of faith, anywhere in the world. This Hindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years over four locations in India. The site of Kumbh Mela keeps rotating between one of the four pilgrimages on four sacred rivers as listed below:

  • Haridwar on the Ganges in Uttarakhand
  • Ujjain on the Shipra in Madhya Pradesh
  • Nashik on the Godavari in Maharashtra
  • Prayagraj at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati in Uttar Pradesh.

The Kumbh Mela has been inscribed on the list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2017.

Mythological Significance of Kumbh Mela

The origin of Kumbh Mela Can be traced to the works of the 8th-century philosopher Shankaracharya. The founding myth of the Kumbh Mela points out to the Puranas which recounts how Gods and demons fought over the sacred pitcher (Kumbh) of Amrit (nectar of immortality).

It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu disguised as the enchantress Mohini whisked the Kumbh out of the grasp of the demons who had tried to claim it. As he took it heavenwards, a few drops of the precious nectar fell on the four sacred sites of  Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag.

The flight and the following pursuit is said to have lasted twelve divine days which are equivalent to twelve human years. Therefore the Kumbh Mela is celebrated every twelve years staggered at each of the four sacred sites in this cycle.

Copper and brass crafts of Punjab’s ‘Thatheras’ on UNESCO heritage list

The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab is being inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, 2014.

It was announced at UNESCO’s 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Paris, France.

Key facts about Thatheras

  • The craft of the Thatheras constitutes the traditional techniques of manufacturing brass, copper and kansa (an alloy of copper, zinc and tin) utensils.
  • They have a unique ethnic and historical identity with an oral tradition that underpins their skill.
  • The name of the community – ‘Thatheras’ is identical with the name of the element.
  • These craft utensils of Thatheras have both utilitarian and ritualistic value.
  • The tradition of using the metals is recommended by the ancient Indian school of medicine, Ayurveda.
  • Skills of the Thatheras have been orally transmitted from one generation to other generations.
  • During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1883) – the great 19th Century Sikh Monarch, the Thatheras crafts colony was established in Jandiala Guru, Punjab. Thus, Jandiala Guru became an area of repute due to the skill of the Thatheras.

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.

It encourages dialogues between communities worldwide that practice traditional metal craftsmanship to manufacture handcrafted products that are both useful and beautiful.