- Takes note that Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran have nominated Ceremony of Mehergan (No. 01859) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
The Ceremony of Mehergan in Tajikistan and Iran is a wide-scale, annual thanksgiving celebration that takes place in the fall. The specific rituals performed during the ceremony vary according to the religion. For instance, Zoroastrian communities celebrate by reciting parts of their holy book, whereas Muslims recite special prayers. Both communities set a table of goods with local products, organize flower exhibitions, prepare various dishes and serve nuts, sweets and special drinks. The celebrations include music, singing, dancing, drama and sports performances, such as wrestling. The location of the ceremonies varies, but they are sometimes held outdoors near holy shrines, as many participants visit the shrines to express their gratitude for a plentiful harvest. As a side event, locals may also offer and display agricultural-related handicrafts and industrial products. By uniting people of all ages and ethnic and religious backgrounds, the ceremony of Mehergan enhances social cohesion, solidarity and inclusion. Youth acquire the knowledge and skills related to the ceremony by preparing and participating in the events, although it is also transmitted in schools and through public and social media platforms.
- Considers 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: Mehergan is a thanksgiving celebration affiliated with agricultural and livestock products. The Mehergan ceremony contains wide-scale celebrations in both Tajikistan and Iran from 2 October to 2 November, on an annual basis. The bearers and practitioners of the element include the populations in these two countries. In Iran, the bearers and practitioners also include Zoroastrian rural communities, including adolescents and children, and Muslim rural communities. In particular, women play a role by cooking traditional dishes. In Tajikistan, the bearers and practitioners include farmers, gardeners, breeders and craftsmen. In both states, the element is transmitted through informal and inter-generational methods. These efforts include younger generations who participate in the festival or learn through education (such as elementary and higher education programmes). In both countries, broadcasts and TV programmes help to raise awareness about the element. In Iran, the element promotes bonds of friendship, supports social participation of all, including women, and entails humanitarian activities such as feeding the poor and helping the lower income strata of society. In Tajikistan, the element strengthens social cohesion, friendship and national identity.
R.5: The element is included on the Iranian National Representative Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage and the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajikistan. In Iran, the inventorying of the element is a joint effort of local communities and active NGOs located in the Gilan, Mazandaran, Yazd, Kerman and Fars provinces. The preparation and updating of the Tajik National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage has undergone several field activities, involving meetings for the local communities, groups and individuals, as well as close cooperation with local NGOs and public organizations. The inventory in Iran is updated on a three-year basis, while the Tajik National Inventory was drawn up in 2013 and updated in 2016 and 2018. While there was limited information about the updating process for the National Inventory of Tajikistan and community involvement, the overall information presented satisfied criterion R.5.
- Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:
R.2: Inscription will promote dialogue and interaction among different faiths and religions, hence contributing to peace and friendship internationally. It will also raise international awareness about autumnal celebrations. In addition, inscription will promote dialogue among the local practicing communities and in other geographical regions in Iran, and it will strengthen ties between the element's practitioners in Tajikistan. However, the nomination did not sufficiently explain how inscription will promote intangible cultural heritage in general at the local, national and international levels. Instead, the information focused on the increase in visibility and awareness of the element itself.
R.3: The nomination file provided information about the communities' past and current efforts in audio-visual documentation, training on ceremony traditions, transferring the knowledge of making traditional clothes and agriculture, and organizing cultural events and festivals. Both submitting States Parties supported the safeguarding measures through allocated annual budgets, the preparation of documentaries to raise awareness about the element, inventorying of the element, and promotion of the festival. However, there was insufficient information to establish whether criterion R.3 was satisfied. Each submitting State Party provided their respective proposed safeguarding measures, but no joint safeguarding measures were provided in the nomination file. While a list of organizations and institutes were provided, there was insufficient information about how the communities, groups and individuals were involved in the planning of the proposed safeguarding measures, and how they will be involved in their implementation.
R.4: The file explained that for Iran, local communities from various provinces participated in preparing the international nomination file. In Tajikistan, a special task force was established at the Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan, composed of representatives of different communities, including researchers, folk craftsmen, NGO activists, agricultural workers and cultural officials. While the file briefly mentions the involvement of NGOs, communities and stakeholders, there was a lack of detail on the role of these communities, groups and individuals, and their contributions to the nomination process. Moreover, most of the letters of consent from Tajikistan were submitted by workers or officials from government departments and organizations, and did not explain how these organizations represent the communities concerned. Given that the element is widely practiced among the populations of both submitting States, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate the widest possible participation of the communities in the nomination process.
- Decides to refer the nomination of Ceremony of Mehergan to the submitting States Parties and invites them to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
- Reminds the States Parties of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in developing and implementing safeguarding measures, as well as in the inventorying process;
- Further reminds the States Parties to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of all communities concerned by the element.