UNESCO has inscribed Ramman, the religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Apart from Ramman, the Tango of Argentina and Uruguay, the traditional Ainu dance of Japan and 73 other intangible cultural heritage elements from different parts of the world have been added to the representative list by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage.

Last year, Kutiyattam - Sanskrit Theatre, Ramlila - traditional performance of the Ramayana and Vedic Chanting were included in the Representative List.

This year, UNESCO has also identified 12 elements of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. This includes Chinese Qiang New Year festival and design of wooden arch bridges and traditions and practices associated to the Kayas in the sacred forests of Kenya.

The UNESCO convention on intangible heritage, adopted in 2003 and in force since 2006, introduced the idea of a representative list. The purpose of this list is to “help enhance the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and raise awareness regarding its importance.” These measures, UNESCO hopes, will help promote the continued practice of the heritage elements.

On the other hand, the list of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding includes heritage elements that are endangered despite the efforts of the community or group concerned. Inclusion of traditional practices or heritage elements in this endangered list makes it obligatory on the States, which propose their inscription to implement measures to protect them.