- Takes note that Armenia has nominated Vardavar, Armenian summertime water festival for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:
Vardavar is a summer festival celebrated in Armenia during which participants splash water at one another and the rose (vard) plays a prominent role. Pre-Christian in origin, Vardavar now incorporates local cultural traditions from various regions including healing and purification beliefs and pilgrimages to holy places dedicated to the Christian saint, John the Baptist (Saint Karapet in Armenian). The rituals begin with processions of young girls who carry filled water jugs, roses and stones. The elder generation prepares home-made milk products and special cookies for the celebration, and everyone splashes water at one another as a demonstration of goodwill, and in some cases ‘hidden’ love. Vardavar traditions also include singing, dancing, fortune-telling, puppetry and wrestling matches. The water-splashing is preceded by the decoration of the Khndoum tree with roses and apples; it is then taken in procession to a nearby spring or river, where a woman dances and utters ritual phrases before the tree is burned as a sacrifice. All the rituals and sacrifices were originally forms of water worship for summer rains to enable the people to survive drought. The festival is actively celebrated nationwide by Armenians and minorities of all ages.
- Decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00528, Vardavar, Armenian summertime water festival satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
U.5: The element has been included in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Protected by the Republic of Armenia, administered by the Ministry of Culture.
- Further decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00528, Vardavar, Armenian summertime water festival does not satisfy the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
U.1: Despite the popularity that the festival enjoys among the Armenian people, the submitting State has not addressed all the significant features of the celebration or explained how these instil a sense of identity and continuity in the community; nor has it described the characteristics of bearers and practitioners or the current modes of transmission of the knowledge and skills related to it;
U.2: The State has not presented sufficient information about the frequency and extent of the celebration’s practice, the strength of traditional modes of transmission, the demographics of practitioners and audiences or its sustainability; furthermore it has not clearly distinguished those practices that may be in need of urgent safeguarding from those that are vital and active;
U.3: Although there is evidence of the commitment of both the submitting State and the communities concerned, the State has not provided a coherent and feasible safeguarding plan and the proposed safeguarding measures focus primarily on research and documentation and do not address the modes of transmission or sufficiently reflect the aspirations of the community;
U.4: Although the nomination includes a number of letters from people supporting the element’s inclusion in the inventory of the Republic of Armenia, it does not include evidence of their free, prior and informed consent to its nomination to the Urgent Safeguarding List, and the nomination does not appear to reflect the widest possible participation of the community, in particular in the conception and implementation of the safeguarding plan.
- Decides not to inscribe Vardavar, Armenian summertime water festival on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding at this time and invites the State Party to submit a revised nomination that responds more fully to the criteria, for evaluation by the Committee in a subsequent cycle;
- Further invites the State Party to better define the threats facing the element and to focus its safeguarding plan on those practices, if any, that are endangered;
- Encourages the State Party to approach the nomination process more deliberately, in particular regarding community involvement in the safeguarding plan and the elaboration of relevant measures to meet the need of urgent safeguarding;
- Further encourages the State Party to give careful attention to the linguistic quality of the nomination, as this would enhance the comprehension of the element and the threats facing it.