- 02 December, 2016:
The Mauritius Bhojpuri Folk Songs, ‘Geet Gawai’, have been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
After the inscription of the Séga Tipik on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014, Mauritius has now another nomination which is the dossier of the Bhojpuri Folk Songs ‘Geet Gawai’.
The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Dan Baboo, led the Mauritian delegation at the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held at Addis Ababa from 28 November to 2 December 2016.
Minister Baboo expressed his appreciation with regard to this nomination, which he said is a step forward in preserving the cultural heritage of the country. According to him, those ancestral cultures brought to Mauritius by the Girmitias, indentured labourers some 182 years ago must be kept alive and transmitted to future generations.
He further laid emphasis on the recognition of the Mauritius Bhojpuri Folk Songs ‘Geet Gawai’ on international front following its inscription on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity which will give it an international dimension, putting forward the narrative and musical repertoire, the tradition of wisdom and intrinsic values.
The dossier of the Bhojpuri Folk Songs ‘Geet Gawai’ was presented to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage along with 36 other candidatures to be included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 'Bhojpuri folk song' is best understood as a very broad term that includes many different types of singing and songs of many periods as performed by the singers.
The Bhojpuri folk songs of Mauritius originate from the first Indian Immigrants who came to work as indentured labourers in the sugarcane plantations in 1834. Much of the Bhojpuri folk songs are known to have been currently used in India in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Indian Immigrants in Mauritius were the natural ambassadors of this culture and they possessed all the elements to recreate on the Mauritian scene, the diversity of the cultural and linguistic aspects as represented in India.
Hailing from Bihar and Calcutta, ‘Geet Gawai’ is also a combination of folk songs and dances, accompanied by clapping hands, to the rhythm of musical instruments such as dholak, chamach, lota or chimta.
Mauritius has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely the Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape inscribed in 2006 and 2008 respectively and two Intangible Cultural Heritage that is the Séga Tipik inscribed in 2014 and the ‘Geet Gawai’ on 2nd December 2016.
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