Mangalure, Feb 9: “Though a minority community, Konkani people are culturally rich,” said Dr Shubha Choudhuri, associate director, American Institute of Indian Studies, New Delhi.

She was speaking as the chief faculty during the national workshop on ‘Safeguarding Konkani Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)’ on Sunday February 8 at the World Konkani Center, Mangaluru. The workshop was organised by Konkani Language and Cultural Foundation in association with the state department of Kannada and Culture, Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, Goa Konkani Akademi, Konkani Sahitya Akademi, Kerala, Mangalore Univeristy and Goa University.

In her speech Dr Choudhuri said that Karnataka is blessed to have many cultural identities and promised all kinds of support and guidance to communities of Konkani coming forward to safeguard their ICH. The only one UNESCO trained representative from India, Bhutan and Nepal in the field of ICH, Dr Choudhuri gave a detailed power point presentation of safeguarding a community’s cultural heritage, giving definitions of various terminologies involved, explaining why we need to safeguard the ICH, the difference between preserving and safeguarding a culture and the help one community might get from UNESCO, if they adopt a scientific approach in identifying the communities and making an inventory of their ICH.

More than 100 cultural practitioners, cultural activists, representatives of Konkani organisations and communities, experts, researchers, academicians and students took part in this day-long workshop.

Chandrahasa Rai, assistant director, department of Kannada and culture, inaugurated the workshop in the morning by lighting the lamp along with other dignitaries on the dais. “By organising this workshop, Konkani Language and Cultural Foundation has honoured Kannada culture,” said Rai in his speech. Pundalik Naik, president, Goa Konkani Akademi, Ramesh Pai, president, Konkani Sahitya Akademi, Kerala, Dr Kiran Budkuley, HoD, department of English, Goa University, Basti Vaman Shenoy, president, Konkani Language and Cultural Foundation were present on the dais.

Venkatesh Baliga, vice-president, welcomed the gathering. Alan Pereira, vice president, read the message sent by Shigeru Aoyagi, director, UNESCO office, New Delhi. The message said “intangible heritage cannot be kept in the museum, but has to be kept alive”.

Guru Baliga, assistant director, World Konkani Centre, gave a brief sketch of the plans the Centre wants to implement in safeguarding the ICH. (intangible cultural heritage). “If a photographer sees a person lying on the road because of accident, his priority would be to click photographs, rather than helping the injured take to hospital. In the same way, we give importance to documenting a culture, rather than safeguarding it,” said Guru Baliga in his introductory remarks.

Girija and Parvati representatives from the Kudumi community did the musical invocation at the beginning. Paliya Gaonkar and Akshata Bhat compered the whole day’s proceedings.

There was a panel discussion in the afternoon which was chaired by Dr Kiran Budkuley. A DVD of ‘Shigmo’ – cultural festival of Kudumis was released during the occasion.

Naresh Kini, secretary proposed vote of thanks.