Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Policies and Actions


National level agency/organisation dedicated to preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts

- Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture
- Royal Nepal Academy
- Cultural Undertakings
- Department of Archaeology
- Guthi Samstan (Trust Undertakings)

Prominent NGOs working in this field

- Heritage Nepal, Museum Road, Chawani, Kathmandu, Nepal
- Bagmati Rehabilitation Trust Fund (BRTF), P.O. Box No.6146

Brief chronology-history

The preservation and promotion of traditional or folk performing arts have been a major concern in Nepal throughout history. From the beginning of the Christian Era till today, the Nepalese observe, perform and celebrate many traditional, religious and folk cultural heritages with great enthusiasm. The monarchical system of government, religious harmony and tolerances between Hinduism and Buddhism have been not only proven a vital force behind the continuity of cultural traditions in the country but also helped to evolve a unique cultural world. The Lichchavi rulers and their scions (who ruled this country roughly from the beginning of the Christian Era up to thirteenth century)and the Malla rulers (who ruled subsequently and up to the eighteenth century) continued this age-old tradition of patronising and promoting the arts. After the unification of the country by the founder of the Shah Dynasty, King Prithivi Narayan Shah the Great, in 1769, many new races joined in with this mainstream of Nepalese culture.

In his famous gospel Dibya Upadesh King Prithivi Narayan Shah the Great said: For your own enjoyment, according to the Shastra, bring some of the Newari dance from the three cities of Nepal. This is quite right if anything is given to them, it remains within your country. If this is done, your country will be protected. Other Shah kings after him strictly adhering to his sermons continued to preserve traditional cultural heritages. But during the period of the Rana administration from 1846 to 1951, for hundred and four years, the Rana prime ministers, the de facto rulers of the country neither encouraged nor discouraged traditional cultural heritages. They paid very little attention to the protection, preservation and development of art and culture, as a result ancient cultural traditions sometimes vanished or deteriorated.

The end of the Rana rule and the introduction of democracy in Nepal brought new impetus in the protection and promotion of traditional cultural heritages. Many new institutions were established to look after various aspects of traditional Nepalese culture, including the Department of Archaeology, the Royal Nepal Academy, Tribhuwan University, Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA), the Royal Nepal Art Council, National Archives, Sanskritik Samsthan (Cultural Undertakings), Guthi Samsthan (Trust Undertakings). At present, various government and semi-government agencies are responsible for the preservation and promotion of the traditional cultural heritages. On cultural matters, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Communication are the two major policy and decision making bodies in the government. The Nepal Television, Radio Nepal, press and other media are functioning under the Ministry of Communication.

Once again a new scenario too form after the reestablishment of democratic constitutional monarchical system of government in the country in 1989. In 1995, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture was established. It is made responsible for formulating, implementing policies, plans and programmes on culture. It is also responsible for the protection and promotion of folk or traditional cultural heritages. After 1989 under the new free and liberal atmosphere, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs)aiming at restoration, revival, research and promotion of cultural heritage came into existence. Many such organisations are indirectly helping the preservation and promotion of traditional performing arts to some extent. Frequently these cultural NGOs introduced alien elements in their performances to make them more attractive and profitable.

Home of numerous tribes, communities and social groups professing different religions, observing different social customs and nurtured in different cultural traditions, Nepal is a treasure-house of traditional/folk performing arts such as dance, music, song, etc., impressive for their variety and individuality. If on the one hand the traditional/folk performing art in cities and towns is moving towards commercialization, on the other, it is still continuing in rural areas, as a major recreational activities of the people. In fact, Nepalese art and culture have survived throughout under the love, cure and devotion of rulers and people. Although the caste system in Nepalese society has many drawbacks, it has played a vital role in maintaining, preserving and promoting traditional arts in the country. Being basically an agricultural society, almost all important traditional/folk performing arts of Nepal is influenced by farming class. They are the backbone and forerunners of traditional culture of the country: the chief architects and actors. They not only maintain their traditional occupations, but also preserve folk art and culture. However, during festivals and other important occasions, everybody participates in the singing and dancing - it becomes a community affair.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture organises folk performing art competitions every year in different districts. It helps cultural organizations, groups and individually financially for the preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts. The Royal Nepal Academy, the Cultural Undertakings, Nepal Television and the Radio Nepal from their very inception are preserving and promoting traditional and folk performing arts in their own ways. In Nepal folk and performing arts taught in school as extra-curricular activities and it is being popular among the students day by day. In fact, the overall picture or situation of traditional/folk performing arts in Nepal is promising satisfactory. There are still however, many arts in need of protection, patronisation and promotion for which the country lacks resources and knowledge. Nepal will be highly obliged if international agencies like ACCU, and UNESCO come forward and assist us in preserving and promoting some of our unique cultural heritage which are part of our joint heritage.

Legislation in this field

- Act of Royal Nepal Academy
- Act of Cultural Undertakings

Aspects applied: Performing and Research

Category/types of performing arts

-Religious based on religions and mythologies.
-Socio-Cultural based on social conditions, problems and other events.


Does not exist

Audio・visual documentation collection

Does not exist

Aspects of traditional/folk performing arts in education


Data provider

Dr. Shaphalya Amatya
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture
Address: Singha Durbas, Kathmandu, Nepal