Intangible Cultural HeritageApprox Read Time: 4 min
- Singapore’s street hawker food culture has been designated as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by the UNESCO.
- Hawker culture refers to the community of vendors who cook and sell meals in the 114 hawker centres across Singapore.
- Singapore’s street hawker food culture, one of its most popular attractions, has been designated as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by the UNESCO.
- The award took place at a virtual ceremony on 16 December.
- UNESCO recognizes the hawker culture of the country, mentioning that community dining and culinary practices are prevalent throughout the country.
Hawker food culture of Singapore:
- Singapore’s street hawkers are an indelible part of the city-state’s local life.
- The history of this vibrant street food culture goes back to the 1800s when Singapore became an important trading hub of the British empire.
- Immigrants from all across the region — China, India, the Malay archipelago — were drawn to the employment opportunities presented by the busy port city, and many of them took to selling food on the streets.
- The hawker centres are representative of Singapore’s multiculturalism, with stalls selling food of Chinese, Malay, Indian origins, among others.
- These hawker stalls are also a huge tourist attraction, drawing millions of tourists for dishes like nasi lemak, chilli crab, kaya toast, laksa, and roti prata.
- More than food:
- The hawker culture is not just pertaining to food, but goes way beyond it. These establishments are known as centres for socializing, communicating, and more.
- So besides eating, you will also find people busking, creating art, or even playing chess.
- According to the Singapore government, 9 out of 10 Singaporeans believe that the street hawker culture is an important part of their national identity.
- The food halls are considered the nation’s dining rooms, where people from all walks of life mingle and eat cheap, freshly cooked dishes from morning to night.
About: Cultural Heritage
- Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values.
- Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible or Tangible Cultural Heritage.
- Tangible Heritage includes monuments, collections of objects etc.
About: Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)
- Intangible Heritage includes traditions, living expressions, wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, knowledge on nature and crafts etc.
- Intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part.
- Intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization.
- An understanding of the ICH of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.
About: Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH:
- Considering the importance of the ICH as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development, UNESCO adopted the ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage‘ in 2003.
- The Convention proposed five broad ‘domains’ in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested:
- Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage
- Performing arts
- Social practices, rituals and festive events
- Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
- Traditional craftsmanship
- The purposes of this Convention are:
- To safeguard the intangible cultural heritage
- To ensure respect for the ICH of the communities, groups and individuals concerned
- To raise awareness at the local, national and international levels of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage
- To provide for international cooperation and assistance
Elements from India on the Lists of ICH:
- Kumbh Mela
- Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab
- Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
- Buddhist chanting of Ladakh
- Chhau dance
- Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
- Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
- Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India
- Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre
- Tradition of Vedic chanting
- Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana