- Takes note that Guatemala has nominated Paach ceremony for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:
The Paach ceremony is an ancestral Mayan tradition, with Catholic influences, held in the town centre of San Pedro Sacatepéquez in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. The celebration gives thanks to nature for a good corn harvest, and strengthens the community’s cultural identity, encouraging social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. The ceremony involves thirteen people: four Prayer Sayers (Parlamenteros), four Auxiliary Prayer Sayers, four Godmothers responsible for creating and dressing effigies made of corncobs and for coordinating the preparation and serving of food, and one Board Member who plays percussion. The ceremony begins with the spiritual and physical preparation of the officiants along with their instruments, a procession to the ceremonial sites, the recitation of the prayer in the Maya Mam language and marimba music and dancing. The Paach ceremony is transmitted from generation to generation through families and is based on the direct selection of bearers who meet certain criteria of community service. Bearers use wooden wands as a symbol of their authority and wear ponchos that represent physical purity. In recent years practice of the ceremony has declined and the procession of the Prayer Sayers has rarely taken place. Lack of knowledge of the ceremony among younger generations has reduced their interest and enthusiasm, and the advanced age of current Prayer Sayers risks a breach in transmission.
- Decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00516, Paach ceremony satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
U.1: The meaning of the Paach ceremony is grounded in an ancient Mayan worldview that is an integral part of the community’s life today; the ceremony reinforces members’ cultural identity and demonstrates processes of syncretism and hybridization in its orally transmitted ritual, music, dance, food and other expressions;
U.2: The Paach ceremony has been marginalized to peripheral public and domestic spaces, contributing to a lack of recognition and support from the local population and authorities; its viability today depends on a limited number of elderly bearers, and the main threats concern changes in everyday life, absence of knowledge of or interest in the tradition among the youth, and the economic insecurity of the bearers;
U.4: A number of community members were consulted during the nomination process, although a fuller demonstration that their consent was fully informed and of their future involvement in safeguarding measures would have been welcomed;
U.5: The Paach ceremony is registered by the Registry of Cultural Goods of the Directorate of Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
- Further decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00516, Paach ceremony does not satisfy the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
U.3: Although an ambitious and expensive safeguarding plan is elaborated, no financing seems to be assured and its feasibility cannot therefore be determined; the plan does not appear to reflect sufficiently the aspirations and involvement of the community concerned, and consequently its sustainability cannot be assessed.
- Decides not to inscribe Paach ceremony on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding at this time and invites the State Party to submit a revised nomination that responds more fully to the criteria, for evaluation by the Committee in a subsequent cycle;
- Further invites the State Party to develop a sustainable safeguarding plan aimed clearly at addressing the identified threats, proportionate to the resources that are available or can realistically be mobilized, and with a clearer involvement of the bearers in the conception and implementation of the safeguarding measures.