World Heritage Day
UNESCO Heritage Day
World Heritage Day is observed annually on April 18th to raise awareness about the significance of World Heritage sites and the importance of safeguarding them for future generations. World Heritage sites are a valuable part of our shared cultural and natural heritage, and it is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve them.
In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) proposed the concept of observing World Heritage Day, which was subsequently approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1983. April 18th was chosen as the date for the celebration to honour the day when the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by UNESCO in 1982.
Celebrations for World Heritage Day are commemorated with great enthusiasm, and it typically includes a variety of exciting activities. These range from exhibitions that showcase the unique cultural and natural heritage of different regions, cultural events that highlight the traditions and customs of local communities, to guided tours of heritage sites that offer visitors a chance to explore the history and significance of these iconic locations.
Since 1983, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has been selecting a theme for the World Heritage Day, which serves as the basis for various events and activities around the world. The theme for World Heritage Day in 2023 is "Heritage Changes."
India’s Heritage Treasure
India is home to a rich cultural heritage and houses 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include cultural and natural landmarks. These sites showcase the country's architectural marvels, biodiversity, and cultural diversity. The Taj Mahal, an iconic monument of love, is one of the most popular UNESCO world heritage sites in India. Other famous UNESCO heritage sites include the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, the Konark Sun Temple, and the Great Living Chola Temples, to name a few.
India has been a staunch advocate of the Five Cs of the World Heritage Convention—Credibility, Conservation, Capacity Building, Communication and Communities. This is evident from the fact that India is currently serving its fourth term (2021-25) as a member of the World Heritage Committee. India has always made a concerted effort to safeguard and publicize World Heritage sites, displaying significant dedication to their preservation and maintenance. By actively promoting the Five Cs, India has exhibited its commitment to the worldwide mission of protecting heritage.
The Intangible Cultural Heritage of India
UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a compilation of traditions, practices, knowledge, and skills that communities and groups consider to be an integral part of their cultural heritage. The List was established in 2008 to recognize and safeguard cultural practices and expressions that are transmitted from generation to generation. The list also highlights the customs that are most at risk of being erased from collective memory and helps in safeguarding them for the future. Through this initiative, UNESCO aims to promote and preserve the world's cultural diversity and heritage.
The Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes 14 inscriptions from India, reflecting the country's remarkable achievements in preserving and promoting its intangible cultural heritage. Durga Puja was added to the list in 2021, and India has now submitted the Garba of Gujarat for evaluation in 2023. Additionally, the list includes several other Indian elements such as Kutiyattam, the tradition of Vedic chanting, Ramlila, Ramman, Chhau dance, Kalbelia folk songs, and Mudiyettu.
This recognition is a testament to India's rich cultural heritage and its efforts to preserve and promote it. It strives to increase both national and international awareness of the numerous intangible cultural heritage elements present in different Indian states and highlight its unique customs and traditions.
UNESCO's Commitment to Preserving Heritage Sites
UNESCO acknowledges the exceptional universal significance of these sites, and its vital role in conserving and advancing India's intangible cultural heritage, which is fundamental to the nation's past, imparting a sense of identity and continuity for generations to come. The intangible cultural heritage encompasses a diverse range of aspects, including oral traditions, performing arts, social customs, ceremonies, festive events, traditional craftsmanship, and knowledge and practices associated with the natural world and the cosmos.
Preserving heritage sites can bring substantial economic benefits to the tourism industry. Indian heritage tourism has the potential to protect cultural and historic resources while stimulating local economies by creating job opportunities, generating new businesses, and contributing revenue to the government.
To prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts and protect museums and their collections, UNESCO collaborates with various partners. Additionally, the organization has developed a strategy that prioritizes strengthening the capacity of Member States to prevent and mitigate damage to cultural heritage caused by conflicts and natural disasters. It also aims to integrate cultural protection into humanitarian interventions, security policies, and peacebuilding initiatives.
- World Heritage Day (Ministry Of Culture) | PIB
- Safeguarding Heritage | UNESCO
- List of Intangible Cultural Heritage- India | UNESCO
- India gets elected to the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Archaeological Survey of India
- Ministry of Tourism, Government of India