ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) organised a symposium in Tunisia on 18 April 1982 and it was suggested that a special day should be celebrated all through the world in the name of "International Day for Monuments and Sites" on the same day every year. This idea was approved in UNESCO’s General Conference in November 1983. Since then “International Monuments and Sites Day” also called the ‘World Heritage Day’ celebrates the diversity of heritage throughout the world.
This year the theme of the day is “Rural Landscapes”. Rural landscapes are defined as “terrestrial and aquatic areas co-produced by human-nature interaction used for the production of food and other renewable natural resources, via agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism, fishing and aquaculture, forestry, wild food gathering, hunting, and extraction of other resources, such as salt.
Rural landscapes are multifunctional resources. At the same time, all rural areas have cultural meanings attributed to them by people and communities: all rural areas are landscapes.” Rural landscapes encompass an increasing accumulation of tangible and intangible heritage which is in constant adaptation to environmental, cultural, social, political and economic conditions. They are the most common type of continuing cultural landscape.
Celebration of the World heritage day has an important part to play in our state, where one can find both natural and cultural heritage.Natural heritageincludes various rockformations, mountains, water bodies; rivers, lakes and streams, even eco-system like flora and fauna.Cultural Heritage, encompass both tangible and intangible heritagein the form monuments, and buildings, paintings, manuscripts and books - all of historicalsignificance. And folklore, performing arts, values, customs, traditions, etc. which make Kashmir so beautiful that keeps us mesmerized.
Kashmir has all of it and to maintain these monuments and keep them alive for our upcoming generations, this day is celebrated to spread awareness among the visitors to protect these priceless monuments and archaeological and historical sites and cultural traditions.
World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable assetdemands the collective efforts of the local community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise thepublic's awareness about the diversity of our natural, built and cultural heritage and the efforts that arerequired to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.If it is the "being" of people, their way of living, and, consequently, their identity, that is the problem of development for which heritage, archaeology and culture appears relevant.
We in valley of Kashmir have a special responsibility. We must take the time off to participate in World Heritage Day. Itwill help us to understand what the stakes are and the dangers of losing our past, brick by brick, stone bystone, and memoryby memory.
So what can we do on World Heritage Day? Some of the things wecan do is: Visit our monuments, email your local papers and magazines, make a statement for television, ask your radio RJs to talk about heritage on FM radio, hang a personal banner outside your home, office or work place saying "I care for Kashmir’s Heritage", invite experts to talk to the local community, organise small exhibitions displayingphotos and paintings or inaugurate a recently restored monument and visit a museum.
As Molly Harrison has noted, the past is often difficult to believe in. Through the visual and tactile evidence they leave behind them, the people of the past can become real flesh and blood. While conservation and research remain primary functions of museums, there is, then, a movement to provide for the needs of what has been described as a "vast new public." The result has been a "general policy to promote education, to popularize, publicize, and integrate the museum more fully into everyday life. As museums are the custodians of natural, cultural, social, economic, technological, and art and architectural history of a nation.
We must aware our youth through organizing seminars in educations institutions concerning heritage. We must take out rallies and marches highlighting the significance of our precious heritage. We must organize debates, symposiums, painting competitions, with heritage as theme. We must rememberthat the past is trying to give us a message, a cry for help, an appeal to use our wisdom. Will we heed thecall? Will we save our heritage? Will we do this for our past and for the future of our civilization and our identity? It is a big responsibility and it is in our hands.