http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/00839

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): India

Identification

Description

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India

In the monasteries and villages of the Ladakh region, Buddhist lamas (priests) chant sacred texts representing the spirit, philosophy and teachings of the Buddha. Two forms of Buddhism are practised in Ladakh – Mahayana and Vajrayana – and there are four major sects, namely Nyngma, Kagyud, Shakya and Geluk. Each sect has several forms of chanting, practised during life-cycle rituals and on important days in the Buddhist and agrarian calendars. Chanting is undertaken for the spiritual and moral well-being of the people, for purification and peace of mind, to appease the wrath of evil spirits or to invoke the blessing of various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities and rinpoches. The chanting is performed in groups, either sitting indoors or accompanied by dance in monastery courtyards or private houses. The monks wear special costumes and make hand gestures (mudras) representing the divine Buddha, and instruments such as bells, drums, cymbals and trumpets lend musicality and rhythm to the chanting. Acolytes are trained under the rigorous supervision of senior monks, reciting texts frequently until they are memorized. Chants are practised everyday in the monastic assembly hall as a prayer to the deities for world peace, and for the personal growth of the practitioners.

Documents

Decision 7.COM 11.16

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: Buddhist chanting is a pervasive cultural practice in the Ladakh region not only in monasteries where monks chant daily but also among villagers who recite these chants on special days;
  • R.2: The inscription of Buddhist chanting on the Representative List could encourage dialogue among communities by spreading a message of peace and mutual respect, thus helping to enrich cultural diversity;
  • R.3: The safeguarding measures proposed aim at documenting and disseminating knowledge about traditional Buddhist chanting and improving the living conditions of the monks so that they can pass on the practice to younger generations;
  • R.4: The nomination process included five monasteries of Ladakh as well as government authorities and non-governmental organizations; and the free, prior and informed consent of the monks is demonstrated;
  • R.5: The element is included in an inventory of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and in an inventory of the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, prepared and updated with the participation of community representatives.

Inscribes the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Slideshow

Video


© 2009 by Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

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