The purpose of this paper is to understand the traditional practices of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) through “Guthi”, that is continued by the indigenous community of Kathmandu Valley. It explores the ancient system as a management practice rather than just a social costume. By analyzing existing laws and policies relevant to intangible heritage of Nepal, it aims to find scope for the Guthi in the formal heritage conservation practice and its relevancy in present context of 2003 Convention, where community participation plays a pivotal role.Design/methodology/approachTo study the traditional method of safeguarding heritage “Guthi system”, the case of “Yehya Punhi Festival” also known as “Indra Jatra” of Kathmandu was taken as a case. Qualitative research methodology was used to study various sub festivals within Yenya, its functions, funding mechanism and its way of continuity by Guthi. Review of various legislations associated with the heritage of Nepal, published and unpublished official documents as well as international conventions and recommendations were done. In addition to semi-structured interview with Guthi members, experts and locals; the observation of eight days long festival was also conducted,FindingsThe study found that traditional Guthi system still holds a strong value in the social structure and safeguarding of traditional practices even with negative impact of modernization. Guthi is the main reason for the continuity of the Yenya Punhi festival, along with various associated rituals, while the national legislations of Nepal do not recognize Guthi as a safeguarding practice. Traditional practice could be a way forward for implementation of 2003 convention in Nepal when Nepal has already ratified the convention. Guthi could be sustainable way of safeguarding heritage if integrated well in the formal heritage practices.Originality/valueGuthi has been studied by many researchers from anthropological perspectives and even conservation for tangible heritage but not as a mechanism of safeguarding ICH. Guthi could be one of the excellent examples of Safeguarding Intangible Heritage and could also be a good recipe for management with community participation, sustainability and indigenous knowledge. More research and publication like this is necessary to push government to look into homegrown solutions than implementing new management plan.
Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 2021
Keywords: Community management; Continuity; Intangible cultural heritage; Indigenous practices; Safeguarding heritage