“We will nominate at least two intangible cultures of Nepal in UNESCO within the current fiscal year,” said the government officials, adding that they are listing and selecting intangible cultures practised across the country at present. There are 125 different groups and ethnic communities with some 120 languages across the country, according to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. They have their own unique tradition and culture, including living intangible cultures.
Til Bikram Nembang, chancellor of Nepal Academy, expressed concern about disappearing living intangible cultures.
“At a time when tangible heritage sites such as Bagmati are at a sorry state, intangible cultures are on the verge of extinction due to rapid urbanisation and modern lifestyle,” he said.
“While cultures must be a part of life, they are only confined as the stage property today.”
The government has already formulated a national cultural policy in line with the UNESCO Convention to preserve and promote the cultures of Nepal.
According to the ministry, the proposed guideline includes standards and policies of intangible cultural heritages and their preservation as per the UNESCO provisions.
In 2010, the government had ratified the UN Convention designed to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, such as folklore, oral traditions, social rituals and performing arts, the ministry informed.
“However, nothing much has been accomplished to safeguard the unique living cultures and traditions of Nepal,” said Sushil Kumar Pandey, deputy secretary-general of Nepal National Commission for UNESCO.
“The living cultures must be preserved for our own identity and integration of society,” he added.
By ratifying the UN Convention, Nepal has committed at the international level to safeguarding the rich and diverse living heritage of the country.
Nepal is the 125th State Party to the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).
The main purposes of the convention, which UNESCO Member States adopted in 2003, are to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, to ensure respect for it, to raise awareness on its importance, and to provide international cooperation and assistance in those fields.
Signatory governments recognise that cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestations, such as monuments and objects, but must be extended to the traditions and living expressions inherited from ancestors. Sushil Ghimire, secretary at the ministry, said the government alone cannot preserve the culture and living heritage of the country.
“The local communities should also come forward before it’s too late,” he said adding that it will be impossible to revive the lost intangible cultures even if we develop physical infrastructure.
Signing the convention binds the governments to acknowledge their roles in international cooperation and responsibilities towards implementing the provisions of the convention through adoption of necessary legislative, regulatory and other appropriate measures, the ministry said.
The ministry is preparing the final draft for the formation of Intangible Culture Heritage Council through a Cabinet decision.