Kalash’s Suri Jagek prac­tice listed as In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage

Unesco’s In­ter-gov­ern­men­tal Com­mit­tee ap­proves Pak­istan’s nom­i­na­tion for Safe­guard­ing the ICH

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY TARIQ BUTT

ISLAMABAD: The Suri Jagek prac­tice of Pak­istan’s indige­nous Kalasha peo­ple has been ap­proved by the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Scientiic and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco) for in­clu­sion in this year’s list of In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage (ICH).

The nom­i­na­tion was ac­cepted by the Unesco’s In­ter-gov­ern­men­tal Com­mit­tee for Safe­guard­ing the In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage dur­ing its 13th ses­sion be­ing held in Port Louis, Mau­ri­tius, said a re­port.

The 2018 list also in­cludes cul­tural her­itage in Kenya, Al­ge­ria, Cam­bo­dia, Syria, Egypt and Azer­bai­jan.

The 24-mem­ber com­mit­tee’s ses­sion, which be­gan ear­lier this week and will con­clude on Satur­day, dis­cussed sev­eral is­sues that are im­por­tant for the safe­guard­ing of liv­ing her­itage around the world and ap­proved the 2018 list of In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage (ICH) in Need of Urgent Safe­guard­ing.

The Unesco com­mit­tee ac­cepted Pak­istan’s nom­i­na­tion that “as a rul­ing cus­tom, in­te­gral to the for­ma­tion of the tra­di­tional luni-so­lar cal­en­dar dic­tat­ing times for fes­ti­vals, feasts and so­cial events, as well as an­i­mal hus­bandry and agri­cul­ture of the Kalasha and Mus­lim com­mu­nity re­sid­ing in the three val­leys, con­sider Suri Jagek to be an in­te­gral part of their In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage.” A irst ex­clu­sive in­scrip­tion for 2003 Con­ven­tion for Pak­istan — the other two be­ing Nau­roz and Fal­conry shared with neigh­bour coun­tries in the re­gion — Suri Jagek (lit­er­ally, ob­serv­ing the sun) is a Kalasha me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal and astro­nom­i­cal prac­tice car­ried out in De­cem­ber on the win­ter sol­stice and is based on the ob­ser­va­tion of the sun, moon and stars in ref­er­ence to the lo­cal to­pog­ra­phy.

The prac­tice and en­act­ment of Suri Jagek lies pre­dom­i­nantly in the Hindu Kush range with the lo­cal to­pog­ra­phy pro­vid­ing vis­ual cues to ob­serve the ris­ing and set­ting of the sun be­hind as­cribed geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions from ob­ser­va­to­ries called Suri Ja­gaekein lo­cated in vil­lages of the three Kalash val­leys — Mu­muret (Bum­bu­ret), Biriu (Birir) and Rukmu (Rum­bur).

How­ever, the an­cient ob­ser­va­to­ries like Suri Ja­gaekein are un­der threat with in­creased con­struc­tion within the Kalash val­leys. Suri Ja­gaekein of cer­tain vil­lages such as Balan­guru in Rum­bur and Guru in Birir pro­vide ob­structed views of the ris­ing sun due to build struc­tures and vis­ual im­pair­ment from trees, re­spec­tively.

Such fac­tors re­sulted in a lack of aware­ness among the younger pop­u­la­tion re­gard­ing the cul­tural sig­ni­icance and util­i­tar­ian beneits as­so­ci­ated with Suri Jagek. There is a com­plaint among com­mu­nity mem­bers that the cur­ricu­lum taught along with the ped­a­gogy used in schools has per­pet­u­ally alien­ated them from their own cul­ture.


The an­cient ob­ser­va­to­ries like Suri Ja­gaekein are un­der threat with in­creased con­struc­tion within the Kalash val­leys.

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