India's yoga is now a Unesco 'intangible'

Khmer traditional music, portuguese black pottery also join prestigious list

The ancient Indian philosophy behind yoga, the mind-body discipline now practised the world over, has joined Unesco's list of "intangible" world heritage.

The discipline was added to the prestigious list in recognition of its influence on Indian society, "from health and medicine to education and the arts", the World Heritage Committee said in a statement.

"Designed to help individuals build self-realisation, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation, (yoga) is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion," Unesco added in a tweet.

The list of "intangible" cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them. Unesco also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.

On Thursday, the Paris-based UN body meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa also added Cambodia's traditional music form Chapey dong veng to the list.

Chapey dong veng is a traditional musical art form that involves playing the eponymous lute-like instrument while singing poetic lyrics pertaining to folklore or social issues.

The new list also include Bisalhaes black clay pottery from Vila Real in Portugal. In real danger of extinction, Bisalhaes black clay pottery uses a complex process that takes more than a year to be completed.

Other lists include Cuba's rumba dance and Belgium's beer culture, Ugandan traditional music, which is dying out partly because it requires materials from endangered species, as intangible heritage "in urgent need of safeguarding".

As well, Bangladesh's Mangal Shobhajatra on Pahela Baishakhis, a festival organised by students and teachers of Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Art in Bangladesh, is also included. It is open to the public to celebrate Pahela Baishakh (New Year's Day on April 14).

Unesco began compiling a list for cultural and natural world heritage - physical properties such as Cambodia's Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon in the United States - in 1972.

The list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities such as Australia's Uluru National Park, formerly known as Ayer's Rock.