Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Safeguarding intangible heritage is the protection of cultural identities and therefore the cultural diversity of humankind. Since becoming a State Party to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage(ICH), Bangladesh is obligated to carry out measures so as to safeguard ICH elements and the practicing communities that exists within its borders.
Shadhona – A Center for Advancement of Southasian Culture, being an UNESCO ICH Committee accredited NGO, has taken upon itself the ambitious task of creating a ‘Community-led Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Bangladesh’ via an ICH-pedia which empowers people and communities to upload information about their own cultural practices, which will, then, be published after verification by an expert committee.
As a first step, Shadhona has started training young academics about ‘ICH Inventorying’ and inspiring them to come up with ‘ICH Safeguarding’ strategies based on the ‘Four Goal Approach’ of a) Documenting ICH and living traditions in Bangladesh; b) Recognizing and celebrating ICH with festivals and commemorations; d) Supporting and encouraging the passing on of knowledge and skills; and, d) Exploring the potential of ICH as a resource for community development and achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The second step is the formation of a coalition of community based organizations who will collectively undertake this task.
Secondly, On June 14, 2020, an informal, multi-organization consortium, led by Shadhona – A Center for Advancement of Southasian Culture, a UNESCO ICH Committee accredited NGO, was formed with the intention of creating a community-led, digital and online ICH-pedia for Bangladesh, for inventorying all Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) practices of Bangladesh with the support of young students and academics. This consortium was named, ‘Consortium for ICH-pedia, Bangladesh (CIB)’.
1. The primary aim of the Consortium is to create a National Inventory of ICH practices in Bangladesh, in the format of an ICH-pedia.
2. However, the Consortium would also like to
a) encourage good Safeguarding practices of ICH in consonance with the aims of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals;
b) inspire Critical Research on ICH issues with tertiary educational institutions;
c) work towards inclusion of ICH Studies in all levels of education with the sole aim of maintaining the rich and diverse ICH practices of Bangladesh.
3. Most importantly, the ICH-pedia will be made entirely by the various Communities, and with their written Consent.
The Consortium firmly believes that respect for diverse cultural practices of all indigenous communities makes a nation liberal and compassionate, giving it the ideal groundwork to grown from strength to strength.