The National Museum Institute (NMI) has embarked on an exercise to develop an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in an effort to document the country’s age-old treasures in performing arts.

According to National Museum director-general Venu V.: “We are under no illusion. The projects, being undertaken in different parts of the country, will take time. The NMI wants to develop a robust format and is creating a few models.”

Since researching and cataloguing will be herculean task, the NMI’s Department of Musicology has identified and worked in the rugged hills of Ladakh and the plains of western Uttar Pradesh.

“We recently organised community-led events in Meerut and Jammu and Kashmir, and have started listing the intangible cultural heritage of these two regions. They will be the models for other such studies,” he added.

NMI Assistant Professor Manvi Seth, engaged in the task of creating awareness about the same among villagers of Gya in Ladakh, said: “We have involved the locals to document their lives. Globalisation and tourism has affected these remote places. That’s why we want to document these. ”

At Sikhera in western Uttar Pradesh, the NMI organised a live creation of Sanjhi, a set of patterns consisting of traditional motifs created on certain ceremonies, festivals and occasions.

“We have identified five elders as part of the intangible cultural heritage documentation project. Given their significant knowledge and experience in social and cultural traditions, speakers were slotted to tell stories on subjects such as rituals around Losar [the Buddhist New Year],” she added.