Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.b.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Belarus has nominated Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady (Budslaŭ fest) (No. 01387) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Budslaŭ Fest takes place in Budslaŭ village, in the Minsk region. Since the seventeenth century, every year on the first weekend of July tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over Belarus and other countries have come to Budslaŭ to participate in the celebrations in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady, with some making the pilgrimage on foot. The Icon, the patroness of Belarusian people, is known for many miracles and Budslaŭ is recognized as the place where, according to legend, Our Lady appeared to believers in July 1588. Elements of the celebration include priests welcoming the pilgrims, masses, a night procession with the Icon and candles, a youth prayer vigil, and hours of prayer to the Mother of God. The tradition is an integral part of the history and culture of the local community of Budslaŭ, with bearers including people of all ages and social statuses. It attracts entire families and believers of all ages, which helps strengthen intergenerational ties. Related knowledge is preserved and transmitted by local inhabitants, who are very proud of the relic; they show pilgrims a warm welcome, inviting them to local homes to share meals with them. Pilgrims visiting Budslaŭ learn all about the local traditional culture, including the ceremony and local traditions such as crafts, customs and cuisine.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   As an important religious and cultural event, the celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady unites people of different backgrounds and age groups in a single cultural space. It is connected not only with the prevailing Catholic community, but also with members of other denominations and the local community, for whom it serves as an important identity-building element. It assumes the form of an eclectic folk festival, incorporating the work of local artisans, folk puppet theatres and popular fairs. Thanks to the syncretism of the practice, believers of different confessions are received in a mood of sharing and friendliness.

R.2:   The well-organized, popular ecumenical event represents a general tradition of tolerance and mutual respect, which could be inspirational internationally. Its inscription would raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage as a key factor in uniting people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds, and maintaining peace and understanding. With pilgrims originating from many different towns and countries, inscription of the element would enhance intercultural and interfaith dialogue and promote cultural diversity.

R.3:   The Budslaŭ fest survived the Soviet period and, thanks to the efforts of the local community and the support of the State Party, was successfully revitalized, becoming an increasingly thriving event. A set of safeguarding measures aimed at documenting and disseminating information concerning the element, especially among children and youth, is complemented by the creation of favourable conditions for the protection and restoration of related tangible objects, landscape and infrastructure. A strategy geared at the sustainable development of the locality and eliminating existing risks is envisaged.

R.4:   The most active pilgrims of the Minsk region and the Budslaŭ community initiated the idea of nominating the element in 2013 during the 400th anniversary of the Budslaŭ Icon of Our Lady. The nomination file was prepared with the broad support of Belarusian society and the active participation of the local community, pilgrims, experts and other relevant stakeholders, who partook in a series of roundtable discussions. The file demonstrates the free, prior and informed consent of state and church authorities, local parishioners of different confessions and pilgrims.

R.5:   At the local level, information concerning the element has been collected since 2006, leading to the inclusion of the Budslaŭ Fest in the State List of Historical and Cultural Values of Belarus and the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Belarus (2014). The bodies and institutions responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory are the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus and the Institute of Culture of Belarus. The status of elements inscribed is monitored on an annual basis and information is updated with the active involvement of local communities.

  1. Inscribes Celebration in honor of the Budslaŭ icon of Our Lady (Budslaŭ fest) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for the improved file following the referral of this nomination in 2016.