Documenting Efforts to Conserve India’s Living Tradition
Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. These may be oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts all of which is collectively termed as ICH.
The Ministry of Culture has initiated an effort to develop innovative and appropriate databases for identiﬁcation and recording of ICH, including in digital forms and represented on the internet. The Ministry has set up a Committee on Diverse and Living Traditions of India. CEE was given the responsibility to develop a ﬁrst level documentation of resource people, institutions, communities, practices, archival material, and existing inventories relating to the conservation of India’s ICH.
Prof. GN Devy, Shri Ashoke Chatterjee and Shri Kartikeya Sarabhai guided the documentation effort, done through the Parampara Project. The project is an attempt to provide a platform to showcase the efforts towards conservation of India’s ICH. It is also a step towards exploring ICH in the context of its linkage with environmental sustainability. CEE has developed and tested a robust system of collecting information on this huge and complex subject area.
A prototype ‘Parampara Catalogue’ has been developed which demonstrates the manner in which documentation can be done and presented. The prototype catalogue has been produced with a view to invite comments and guidelines which can help the next phase of creating the ﬁrst national Parampara Catalogue.
The Prarampara Project is supported by an active website which is an online mechanism to help collate information on institutions, experts, government sponsored schemes, research projects, status reports, audio/video, web materials and speciﬁc conservation programmes relating to India’s ICH.
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“Patta” literally means “cloth” and “Chitra” means “picture” in Sanskrit. The Pattachitra painting tradition is closely linked with the worship of Lord Jagannath in Odisha. The original Pattachitra is done on matha silk canvas with vegetable dyes. These paintings were traditionally done by males only. However, in recent times, some women artists have also taken up this art form.
The present generation of patta chitra artists paint on the walls of big temples and important public places. Bhubaneswar is unique in its appearance with such Pattachitra paintings on all important public places, walls, and ﬂyovers. The photo above, taken in the Patia area of the city, shows scrap cars painted with patta chitra depicting stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
You Can Contribute!
Do log on to the website www.paramparaproject.org and contribute relevant materials about any of India’s living tradition that you think should ﬁnd mention on the portal. Contributions are invited in the forms of write-ups, audio/video material/ etc. about the different kind of living traditions (ICH) that are found in India, and are being/ need to be conserved. Information relating to those cultural traditions that strongly reﬂect environmental sustainability and through which livelihoods can be enhanced, is especially welcome.