The Centre has decided to nominate Assam’s Charaideo Maidams for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre this year. The Moidams will be nominated in the category of cultural sites. Currently, there is no World Heritage Site in the category of cultural heritage in the Northeast.

 

What are Moidams/Maidams?

  • The Moidams (also Maidams) are the mound-burial system of the Ahom dynasty (13th century-19th century).
  • The mound-burial system of the royals of the Ahom dynasty in Assam’s Charaideo district can be likened to the royal tombs of ancient China and the Pyramids of the Egyptians Pharaohs (kings of ancient Egypt).
    • The Ahom rule lasted for about 600 years until the British annexed Assam in 1826.
    • Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1253.
  • Previously, those of the deceased with their paraphernalia (apparatus/ equipment) were buried.
  • However, after the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation, entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Moidam at Charaideo.
  • The Moidams enshrine the mortal remains of Ahom royalty and are highly venerated.
  • With the shift of Ahom capital south and eastwards, Moidams have been seen in different parts of Northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Northern Burma, Southern China and Northeast India – together defining the region where Tai-Ahom culture prevailed.

 

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

  • It is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN), headquartered at the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France.
  • It was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nation’s International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.
  • It was established with an aim to promote world peace and security through international cooperation in five key program areas – Education; Natural sciences; Social or human sciences; Culture; Communication/information.
  • UNESCO is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. Thus, UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the SDGs defined in the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
  • UNESCO’s activities have expanded over the years. It aids in the translation and dissemination of world literature, assists in the establishment and protection of World Heritage Sites of cultural and natural importance, works to bridge the global digital divide, etc.

 

About the World Heritage Sites

  • These sites have been designated as having “outstanding universal value” under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972. The convention provides a framework for international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural treasures and natural areas throughout the world.
  • Categorisation of Sites – The sites are categorised in three types:
      • Cultural heritage sites – It includes historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting
      • Natural heritage sites – It includes those natural areas that have excellent ecological and evolutionary processes, endangered species etc.
      • Mixed heritage sites – It contain elements of both natural and cultural significance.
  • India has 40 world heritage sites, including 32 cultural properties, 7 natural properties and 1 mixed site. The 40th being the Harappan City, Dholavira in Gujarat, in 2021. Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park are among the seven natural sites.