UNESCO’s recent decision to include Garba, Gujarat’s traditional folk dance, in its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity has added another feather to India’s rich cultural heritage. This recognition at the 18th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage underscores the significance of garbage as a cultural treasure with ritualistic and devotional roots.

Garba holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Gujarat, and its inclusion in the UNESCO list further elevates its status on the global stage. The dance form is performed during the Navaratri Hindu festival, dedicated to worshipping feminine energy. UNESCO’s evaluation body acknowledged garba as a dance that transcends socio-economic, gender, and religious structures, fostering inclusivity and strengthening social bonds.

The nomination for Garba’s inclusion in the UNESCO list was spearheaded by the Indian government in collaboration with the Gujarat government. Dancer and choreographer Professor Parul Shah, Prof Utpala Desai, and others played a crucial role in preparing the dossier presented to UNESCO. The dossier highlighted the community’s role, particularly that of women, in preserving and spreading this cultural art form.

Garba’s recognition joins a prestigious list of 15 elements from various parts of India on UNESCO’s representative list of ICH, showcasing the country’s diverse and rich cultural tapestry. Other elements include Ramlila, yoga, Kutiyattam, Mudiyettu, Chhau dance, and more, each representing a unique facet of India’s cultural identity.

The acknowledgment of garba’s significance by UNESCO resonated with celebrations and performances, including a rendition of a garba song penned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Union Culture Minister G Kisan Reddy expressed pride in this recognition, emphasizing the honor bestowed upon India’s ancient culture.

As garba joins the illustrious list of UNESCO-recognized cultural elements, it preserves a traditional dance form and promotes cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. This recognition is a testament to the enduring legacy of India’s cultural heritage, showcased through vibrant and expressive art forms like garba.