The multinational case of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian festival of spring, has been officially added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The decision was made unanimously at the 11th session of the Inter-governmental Committee on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (28 Nov. to 2 Dec).
Besides Iran, Balkan countries and Central Asia also celebrate the arrival of spring with the Nevruz festival. It is called Nowruz in Persian, Novruz in Azerbaijani language and Newroze in the Kurdish language. The word comes from the Persian words meaning “new day,” symbolizing the new year.
Iranian Ambassador to UNESCO Ahmad Jalali who headed the Iranian delegation at the global conference on the Intangible Cultural Heritage, delivered a lecture on the significance of Nowruz and its message.
Meanwhile, UNESCO officially added ‘Lavash’, a traditional thin flatbread widely consumed in Armenia, Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, to the list of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
Lavash was already on the listbut as as an element of Armenian culture only. But with Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan’s submission this year, the lavash is now recognized as part of the common heritage of these countries.
Among the other additions are Ukrainian Cossack songs, Portugese pottery and Uganda’s traditional Ma’di Bowl Lyre music and dance, one of the oldest cultural practices of the Madi people of Uganda and Mangal Shobhajatra festival in Bangladesh that celebrates the Bengali New Year.
Cuba’s sensual rumba dance and Belgium’s thriving beer culture also brought a new exuberance to UNESCO’s prestigious list.
The list of “intangible” cultural treasures was created in 2008 for traditional events, rituals and social practices, mainly to increase awareness about them, while UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.
To be considered, the tradition should be passed down through generations and give those involved a sense of identity
Inclusion on the list confers on the state an obligation to safeguard the tradition. UNESCO also has a separate list of heritage in need of urgent safeguard, for which there were five applicants this year.
UNESCO began compiling a list for cultural and natural world heritage — physical properties such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon in the United States — in 1972.
The list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities such as Australia’s Uluru National Park, formerly known as Ayer’s Rock.
The committee winds up its review of nominations to the Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list on Thursday.
Mehr news and dailysabah contributed to this report