Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.b.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Belarus has nominated Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady (Budslaŭ Fest) (No. 01174) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

During the first weekend of July up to 40,000 pilgrims from different Christian denominations and countries, as well as tourists visit Budslaŭ, a village north-west of Belarus, for the Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady (Budslaŭ Fest). The icon, associated historically with the granting of miracles, is housed in the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the celebration pilgrims visit the church, which hosts special services including an evening procession and youth vigil. A fair also takes place in the town square featuring local artisans, as well as traditional puppet theatre. The Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady acts to promote an atmosphere of respect, understanding and unity among people of different faiths and secular backgrounds. It is a practice that is also part of local history and culture, particularly important for young people, providing them with a form of cultural memory. It contributes to the community’s sense of identity and pride, helps to strengthen social ties amongst different age groups and reinforces values that encourage the development of peace among people. Knowledge linked to the traditional practice is passed on by families and church communities, from older to younger generations.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The Celebration in honour of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady provides a sense of identity for the local community. People from different age groups, social status and confessions participate in this fest. The file clearly demonstrates that knowledge about this pilgrimage is transmitted within families and by priests, from generation to generation. The element plays important sacred, social, cultural, recreational and moral functions. Budslaŭ Fest is a collective rite which also plays an important role in uniting people of different views and beliefs. The submitting State indicates that no part of the element is incompatible with existing international human rights instruments or with the requirement of mutual respect but rather promotes inclusion and unity;

R.2:   As the element represents a tradition of tolerance, its inscription would raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage as uniting people with different social and religious backgrounds and as an instrument with a potential to facilitate mutual communication and respect. Its ecumenical character makes the feast accessible to Christians of different denominations from all Belarusian churches, as well as lay people. With pilgrims originating from neighbouring towns and countries as well, inscription of the element would promote cultural diversity and mutual respect beyond the local level. The submitting State explains well how the element is inclusive in nature.

  1. Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria are satisfied:

R.3:   The submitting State describes how the community concerned has participated in initiatives to safeguard the element (especially in archiving), as well as its own support (in respect to preservation, research, education, and raising awareness). The file explains how the submitting State will support and finance implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures. These tend to focus rather more on tangible dimensions (such as landscaping around the Budslaŭ church, restoration of its interior, building a Pilgrims’ House, a parking area and tourist routes around the site), and rather less on the intangible aspect of the element – an emphasis, which could possibly strengthen the element’s commercial and tourist interest. This underlines the need for the file to address potential unintended side effects in case of inscription. More details as to how the communities concerned will be involved in the implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures would also be useful;

R.4:   The submitting State describes how the communities concerned participated in preparing and elaborating the nomination with respect to generating information, film production and media broadcasting. Representatives of the Catholic Church signed the free, prior and informed consent, but the file does not present any letter of consent from representatives of other Christian confessions (identified elsewhere in the file as groups concerned with the nomination) and local communities are not visible, other than through members of the local village council, local priests and the local parish. The file also does not provide sufficient information on how this consent was obtained;

R.5:   The file presents a relevant extract of inscription of the element in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Belarus (2014). The inventory is administrated by the Institute of Culture of Belarus, supported by the Ministry of Culture and is regularly updated. There is, however, no information provided as to the participation of the community concerned in the inventorying process.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady (Budslaŭ Fest) to the submitting State and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle.