Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Bangladesh has nominated Mangal Shobhajatra on Pahela Baishakh (No. 01091) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Mangal Shobhajatra is a festival organized by students and teachers of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Art in Bangladesh open to the public to celebrate Pahela Baishakh (New Year’s Day). Taking place on 14 April, the tradition of Mangal Shobhajatra began in 1989 when students, frustrated with having to live under military rule, wanted to bring people in the community in the hope for a better future. Members of the university faculty work together a month before the festival to create masks (said to drive away evil forces and allow for progress) and floats. Among works made for the festival at least one will represent evil, another courage and strength and a third, peace. Items to sell on the day are also produced as a source of funding, such as paintings representing the heritage of Bangladesh people. Mangal Shobhajatra symbolizes the pride the people of Bangladesh have in their living heritage, as well as their strength and courage to fight against sinister forces, and their vindication of truth and justice. It also represents solidarity and a shared value for democracy, uniting people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender or age. Knowledge and skills are transmitted by students and teachers within the community.

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

R.1:   The Mangal Shobhajatra is an element of the intangible cultural heritage of the community of the Faculty of Fine Art at the University of Dhaka. The students and teachers are the bearers; they constitute a cohesive community who express their solidarity with the general public who not only enjoy the festivity of the event but also feel determined to uphold their democratic rights. Knowledge and skills related to the element are being handed down year to year from senior students to new students under teacher supervision. The element is compatible with existing international human rights instruments and the requirement of mutual respect as the submitting State describes the element as a social event that is open to all across caste, religion, class, gender and age;

R.2:   The file demonstrates that inscription of the element would raise the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general, since the element transcends its message beyond local boundaries, motivating many people – including children – to share in the experience and stand for peace. This fight is everlasting; students’ struggles to safeguard democracy and freedom are understandable all over the world. Inscription would thus promote intercultural dialogue as being essentially a democratic value. The element also provides an illustration of human creativity through its annual re‑enactment;

R.3:   The viability of the element is ensured by bearers and practitioners as part of their creative endeavour and vision for a better future through the annual celebration. By varying the artefacts from year to year they also demonstrate their creativeness and the element’s viability as attested by the considerable growth of the celebration in the last 20 years. The proposed safeguarding measures include formal and informal education, research and documentation, as well as public lectures and museum exhibitions. The State Party will provide financial support to implement these measures. Local communities – especially students and teachers of the Faculty of Fine Art – were not only fully involved in designing these safeguarding measures but will also have the greatest responsibility for carrying them out;

R.4:   The element was initiated through the innovative effort of the students and teachers at the University of Dhaka. These bearers and practitioners, in close consultation with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, experts and researchers, actively participated in the preparation of the nomination file at all stages and gave their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination. The consent letters, duly signed, are attached to the nomination file;

R.5:   The element was included in 2007 in a survey of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Bangladesh, prepared by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, as part of the celebration of Pahela Baishakh. This survey is considered as the inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of Bangladesh. It is maintained and updated by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh.

  1. Inscribes Mangal Shobhajatra on Pahela Baishakh on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegation of Bangladesh for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criterion R.5.