http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/00843

Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): India

Identification

Description

Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

Sankirtana encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people of the Manipur plains. Sankirtana practices centre on the temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Krishna through song and dance. In a typical performance, two drummers and about ten singer-dancers perform in a hall or domestic courtyard encircled by seated devotees. The dignity and flow of aesthetic and religious energy is unparalleled, moving audience members to tears and frequently to prostrate themselves before the performers. Sankirtana has two main social functions: it brings people together on festive occasions throughout the year, acting as a cohesive force within Manipur’s Vaishnava community; and it establishes and reinforces relationships between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies. It is thus regarded as the visible manifestation of God. The Sankirtana of Manipur is a vibrant practice promoting an organic relationship with people: the whole society is involved in its safeguarding, with the specific knowledge and skills traditionally transmitted from mentor to disciple. Sankirtana works in harmony with the natural world, whose presence is acknowledged through its many rituals.

Documents

Decision 8.COM 8.14

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: Transmitted from generation to generation through formal and traditional education, Sankirtana music and dance reinforce the social and spiritual cohesion among the Vaishnava communities of Manipur;
  • R.2: Inscription of Sankirtana on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage while encouraging intercultural dialogue and promoting respect for cultural diversity;
  • R.3: Proposed safeguarding measures include research projects, documentation, awareness-raising activities and education programmes with the involvement of the bearers of the element and national institutions;
  • R.4: Representatives of the Sankirtana community including masters and relevant organizations and associations participated in the nomination process and provided their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: Sankirtana is included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and extensively documented by the Akademi and other institutions.

Invites the State Party to monitor the implementation of safeguarding measures for the element and to report on them through its periodic report.

Slideshow

Video


© 2009 by Sangeet Natak Akademi

These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website