Austrian monks want UNESCO to protect hand-washing

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 26 month(s) ago 3 readings

Austrian monks want UNESCO to protect hand-washing

The next time you wash your hands, it could be a UNESCO-protected gesture... if a group of Austrian monks has its way.

A general view of the old city of Salzburg. A general view of the old city of Salzburg. Photo: AFP

The Benedictine monastery of Gut Aich near Salzburg said Tuesday it had submitted its custom of hand-washing -- a greeting ritual -- to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to add to its Intangible Heritage list.

The ritual -- performed by monks on the monastery's visitors upon arrival -- brings people closer together and is understood across all cultures and religions, Prior Johannes Pausch told a press conference.

"You encounter people on another level. With this ritual, visitors know: 'I am welcome'."

A Benedictine tradition that is dying out even within the order, the hand-washing ritual has been kept up at the Gut Aich monastery since it was set up in 2004.

And at a "time of increasing superficiality and hectic" pace, people appreciated this personal contact and interaction, Pausch said.

Gut Aich calls itself a "European monastery," aimed at bringing the region's various cultures together.

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