The Preparedness and Preserving the Heritage Beyond the Rocks

Heritage said that only old buildings and monuments come to mind. But the subject of heritage is not limited to buildings and monuments. About the heritage beyond these rocks.

A group of 94 Victorian Gothic and Art Deco buildings in South Mumbai was declared a World Heritage Site at a UNESCO conference in Manama, Bahrain. This is a matter of great pride for Mumbai. As a result, Maharashtra is the state with the highest number of five UNESCO-certified World Heritage Sites, while Mumbai is the only city with three World Heritage Sites.

Earlier, Ajanta (Aurangabad), Ellora (Aurangabad), Elephanta (Mumbai), and the building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (Mumbai) were included in the list of World Heritage Sites. As a result, the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India has risen to 37. Congratulations to all who strive for this new success. But with this honor comes the time to understand what to do to preserve this heritage and what heritage is as a whole.

Today we are told that only old buildings and monuments come to mind. But the subject of heritage is not limited to buildings and monuments. Even UNESCO does not consider it only for stone buildings. The UNESCO World Heritage List is both tangible and intangible. The list of tangible heritage includes buildings, monuments, etc., while the intangible list includes festivals, languages, animals, traditions, music, handicrafts, etc.

There are many things that come to mind when we think of India as such an intangible heritage. In fact, there are many such things in every corner of India. But today there are very few of these on the UNESCO list. Apart from selected items like Navroj which is a Parsi New Year festival, Kudiyattam which is a Sanskrit drama tradition in Kerala, Vedic mantra recitation, Yoga, Ramlila, Kumbh Mela, India does not appear much in this list. On the contrary, there is a long list of China, Japan and African countries. How much awareness is there in our country about the things mentioned in this list?

There are many things in every state of India that can be listed in this list. Even if we talk about Maharashtra, we can tell many things that are unique and have been going on for centuries. For example, the Dragon Boat Festival in China may be a UNESCO Heritage, but why not the Pandharpur Wari, which is attended by millions of people and has been going on for over seven hundred years? If Gẹlẹdẹ in Nigeria can be a game of masks, then why not Dashavatar in Maharashtra or Yakshagana in Karnataka.

Today, urban heritage has become an important topic. Even in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai, there are many things that Mumbaikars don't have time to look at. The Koli community living on the shores of Mumbai is still alive and well with its traditions. Their festivals, deities, and traditions are still intact after hundreds of years. Narli Pournima is a festival that has gone beyond the Koli community and becomes a part of Mumbai's cultural life.

As the subject of the beach continues, another important point that can be made is that culture and tradition cannot be bound by boundaries. So these traditions, the deities reach far and wide. These threads of human migration, of the flow of perceptions, often underline the story of man. For example, Hinglai Devi on the shores of Versova in Mumbai and Hinglaj Devi in ​​Pakistan can be linked. There are some other places of this Hinglaj Devi in ​​Mumbai. How many people know this legacy that connects India and Pakistan by sea?

There are many references in English correspondence and books about the humid climate of Mumbai. Tired of this humid climate of Mumbai, every summer the British would go to Matheran, Lonavla and Khandala with their families. Another ancient sign of this humid climate can be found in some of the temples in Mumbai. In the Kedareshwar temple of Worli as well as in the temples of Prabhadevi and Sheetladevi we find Khokalai temple. This cough is worshiped to relieve the frequent cough caused by humid weather. Although the importance of medicine has increased today, the worship of cough is still going on today. Although this tradition, which tells the history of Mumbai's health, could not be declared a UNESCO heritage, it can certainly be recorded as an urban heritage.

Inheritance, whether it is tangible or intangible, should be preserved. Not everything should be on the UNESCO list. Each city has its own heritage list. Municipal Corporations in many cities including Mumbai also appoint separate departments for this. But the extent to which the work done by this department reaches the people will be the subject of study. While making this list of cities like Mumbai, one should not only look at the stone structures but also at the various cultural, religious and linguistic aspects of the city.

How many such intangibles are there in Mumbai Municipal Corporation's list of urban heritage? Even today, the heritage list of a city like Mumbai is full of architecture and monuments. Apart from listing these heritage sites according to their status, the committee does not have much authority. The committee should include architects as well as writers, artists, historians and cultural scholars. This committee is not just a paper tiger, it needs certain powers, it needs adequate funding. Otherwise, this heritage list will be just an ornament.

Today, many countries around the world make good use of the UNESCO World Heritage Site for tourism. Also, instead of showing hollow pride, these countries strive to include their heritage in the 'World Heritage' list in order to increase tourism and economic prosperity. We only see awareness of this in a group of architects today. That’s why our buildings seem to be getting this space over the last few years. However, it is sad to say that there is no awareness about this in the field of culture, art and language. Therefore, these groups and the government should reconsider how to plan for a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Today, tourists flock to cities such as London, Rome, and Paris in Europe to see Peking Opera in China and Carnival in Brazil. If we can look at this intangible heritage as a 'heritage' just like our buildings, then we can build a new economy based on tourism. When tourism and the economy based on it stand in this way. There are means of employment through travel, guides, art exhibitions, restaurants, beds and breakfasts, hostels, souvenirs, etc. Local employment can be created on the strength of international tourists. Therefore, this approach can give a new impetus to the economy at a time when the number of unemployed in the country is increasing and the rate of economic growth is declining.

Unfortunately, today the culture, the cultural department is just a show. There is no definite cultural policy in our cities today. For this, the Chief Minister had announced in the program that Mumbai needs an independent Urban Culture and Art Commission. This commission needs to work at its full potential. Today, the concept of 'soft power' is popular all over the world. But, we are still not fully utilizing this 'soft power' that we have. So beyond politics, this should be seen as an opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the economy.

Public participation is as important as political will. There is curiosity and fascination in the minds of people and organizations about all these heritages. Often many of these things are also part of their faith. Therefore, people and the masses should be involved in this heritage conservation movement. Many from the school level to the professional community can be involved in this conservation process. Crowdsourcing is talked about everywhere today. Funds for this work can be raised from these communities. These heritage sites or heritage traditions can be adopted by some groups for preservation. All that is needed is a competent legal framework.

This framework will be found in the new cultural thinking and policy. Therefore, along with social and economic policy, a new cultural policy is equally necessary. In this way, we should enhance the success we have today in the form of heritage buildings. Only then can it be said that we have kept our school vow to be a pike of our rich and diverse traditions.

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