Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India
Every year in late April, the twin villages of Saloor-Dungra in the state of Uttarakhand (northern India) are marked by Ramman, a religious festival in honour of the tutelary god, Bhumiyal Devta, a local divinity whose temple houses most of the festivities. This event is made up of highly complex rituals: the recitation of a version of the epic of Rama and various legends, and the performance of songs and masked dances. The festival is organized by villagers, and each caste and occupational group has a distinct role. For example, youth and the elders perform, the Brahmans lead the prayers and perform the rituals, and the Bhandaris – representing locals of the Kshatriya caste – are alone entitled to wear one of the most sacred masks, that of the half-man, half-lion Hindu deity, Narasimha. The family that hosts Bhumiyal Devta during the year must adhere to a strict daily routine. Combining theatre, music, historical reconstructions, and traditional oral and written tales, the Ramman is a multiform cultural event that reflects the environmental, spiritual and cultural concept of the community, recounting its founding myths and strengthening its sense of self-worth. In order to ensure that it remains viable, the community’s priorities are to promote its transmission and to obtain its recognition beyond the geographical area in which it is practised.
Decision 4.COM 13.43
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India combines music, poetry, dance and crafts that form an expression of the religious and aesthetic experience of the community, celebrate the bonds between humanity, nature and the divinity, and give the community a sense of identity and belonging;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would allow the efforts of the community and State to gain further momentum and boost the self-esteem of the tradition bearers, while contributing to the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels;
- R.3: Various safeguarding measures to ensure the viability of the element are proposed, to be carried out with the will and commitment of the community concerned;
- R.4: The nomination process of the element has benefitted from the participation of the community, particularly the ritual leader and the elected representative body of the community, and the submitted consent letter signed by them testifies to their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: The element is included in various inventories for the intangible cultural heritage that are to be consolidated into a national inventory.
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