The oral tradition of vedic chanting has been declared intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. In a meeting of jury members on 7th November, 2003 at Paris, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, declared the chanting of vedas in India outstanding example of heritage and the form of cultural expressions. The proclamation says in the age of globalisation and modernisation when the cultural diversity is under pressure, the preservation of oral tradition of vedic chanting, a unique cultural heritage has great significance. Total 80 entries were received for this purpose from all over the world and the jury members included Dr. Richard Kurin, Director of the Center for Folklore and Cultural Heritage of the Smithsonian Institution (United Nations), Mr. Juan Goytisolo Writer (Spain), Mr. Yoshikazu Hasegawa (Japan), Ms. Olive W.M. Lewin. Pianist, ethnomusicologist, Director of the Jamaica Orchestra for Youth (Jamaica).
The UNESCO declaration will bring international recognition to the excellence of the vedic chanting tradition of India, which have survived for centuries encoding the wisdom contained in the Vedas through an extraordinary effort of memorisation and through an elaborately worked out mnemonic methods. The purity and fail-safe technique devised for Vedic chanting in the olden days led to access to one of the ancient literatures of humanity in its entirety.
The Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture took the initiative to put up the candidature of the vedic chanting to UNESCO. A presentation was prepared by Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts. The Department has also prepared five year action plan to safeguard, protect, promote and disseminate oral tradition of vedic tradition in terms of their uniqueness and distinctiveness, encourage scholars and practitioners to preserve, revitalise and promote their own branch of vedic recitation as the custodians of their own traditions and direct the efforts primarily to making the tradition survive in its own context.