Reggae music, whose chill, lilting grooves won international fame majorly because of artists like Bob Marley, secured a coveted spot on the United Nations’ list of global cultural treasures.
UNESCO, the UN’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” that originated in Jamaica.
UNESCO noted that while reggae started out as “the voice of the marginalised” it was “now played and embraced by a wide cross-section of society, including various genders, ethnic and religious groups.”
The genre now joins a list of over 300 cultural traditions, including numerous musical ones such as Dominican merengue, Slovakian bagpipe music and Vietnamese xoan singing.
To mark its inclusion on the list, UNESCO shared a short documentary that examines the history and distinct characteristics of reggae music.
It is of particular significance that reggae is inextricably related to the religion of Rastafari, which emerged as a direct response to oppression within Jamaican colonial society.
Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual.
India and the UNESCO
Till now total of 13 Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) elements from India have been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
For inclusion of an element in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the state parties are required to submit nomination dossier on the relevant element for evaluation and examination of the UNESCO Committee.
The Ministry of Culture has appointed the Sangeet Natak Akademi, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture, as nodal office for matters relating to the intangible cultural heritage including for preparation of the nomination dossiers for the Representative List of UNESCO.
The Ministry of Culture makes regular Schemes as well as organisations make efforts towards preservation, protection and promotion of intangible cultural heritage in the country.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture implements, since the year 2013-14 also, a scheme titled “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” with the aims and objectives of professionally enhancing awareness and interest in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), safeguarding, promoting and propagating it systematically.