UNESCO Adds Belarusian Folk Rite To Intangible Cultural Heritage List

UNESCO has listed Spring rite of Juraŭski Karahod in Belarus on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding at its 14th session in Bogota, Colombia.

The spring rite of Juraŭski Karahod is performed by residents of Pahost village on St George’s Day to ensure a rich harvest. Traditionally, the ritual involves two cycles – the first takes place in the courtyard, where animals are led out of the barn after winter.

The second involves a number of ceremonies, including the baking and distribution of a ceremonial bread (karahod) and the sacrificial burying of ‘black’ bread. The tradition is kept alive by women of all ages (between 12 and 70) who sing the songs, musicians and men, who lead the procession.

Women make costumes and bake karahod. The rite attracts residents of neighbouring villages who can also take part in the ceremony, sing ritual songs and dance. Despite the community’s efforts, the rite is threatened by an ageing population, unemployment, general socio-economic conditions and globalization.

This is Belarus’ third element in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The status was granted to the folk rite Kalyady Tsars (Christmas Tsars) in Semezhevo village and Celebration in Honor of the Budslau Icon of Our Lady (Budslau Fest) in Budslau.

The list features elements of living heritage whose viability is under threat. It mobilizes international cooperation and assistance to strengthen the transmission of these cultural practices, in agreement with the concerned communities.