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UNESCO lists Kalash’s Suri Jagek as Intangible Cultural Heritage

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s first independent nomination, the age-old ‘Suri Jagek’ tradition practised by the indigenous Kalash people, has been approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for inclusion in this year’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

The decision was made at the 13th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee held in Mauritius on Wednesday. ‘Suri Jagek’ (observing the sun) is a traditional meteorological and astronomical practice based on observation of the sun, moon and stars in reference to the local topography. It is practiced by the indigenous Kalash community which resides in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Suri Jagek plays a pivotal role in the Kalash community’s observance of significant social events like festivals, feasts, rituals, animal husbandry and farming practices. Permanent Delegate of Pakistan to UNESCO and Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin ul Haque, while commenting upon this latest development, the adoption of the Suri Jagek tradition by UNESCO as a historical achievement and said that this vital and unique tradition will now be protected as part of the shared human heritage of the entire world and will continue to serve its spiritual and utilitarian purposes. He said that this achievement also reflects the priority of the current government to place culture at the heart of its development policy.

The adoption of Suri Jagek, being Pakistan’s first ever independent nomination at this forum, is a milestone towards ensuring better visibility of the country’s rich folklore traditions and diverse cultural heritage, the ambassador added. Pakistan’s delegation at the 13th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage was led by Zahid Ahmed Khan Jotoi, Pakistan Acting High Commissioner in Mauritius. Other delegates included Naushad Khaliq, Section Officer at the National History and Literary Heritage Division, Islamabad, and Faisal Idris, Education and Cultural Attaché at the High Commission for Pakistan, Mauritius.

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