Durga Puja in Kolkata now on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List

Durga Puja festival in Kolkata was is now inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list—a development that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said is a matter of great pride and joy for every Indian

Dec 16, 2021
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Durga Puja in Kolkata now on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List

Durga Puja festival in Kolkata was is now inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list—a development that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said is a matter of great pride and joy for every Indian.

Durga Puja in Kolkata was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In a statement, the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO said: “Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in September or October, most notably in Kolkata, in West Bengal of India, but also in other parts of India and amongst the Bengali diaspora.

It marks the ten-day public worship of the Hindu mother-goddess Durga, but the event is see as more of a socio-cultural fiesta than a religious festival. 

While commending the values which the Durga Puja festival represents, UNESCO wrote on its website, “…During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.” It is also “seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as a thriving ground for collaborative artists and designers. The festival is characterized by large-scale installations and pavilions in urban areas, as well as by traditional Bengali drumming and veneration of the goddess.”
According to UNESCO cultural heritage is not limited to monuments and collections of objects but also includes “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants”.

In the months preceding the festival, small artisanal workshops sculpt images of Durga and her family using unfired clay pulled from the Ganga River. The worship of the goddess then begins on the inaugural day of Mahalaya, when eyes are painted onto the clay images to bring the goddess to life. It ends on the tenth day, when the images are immersed in the river from where the clay came. Thus, the festival has also come to signify ‘home-coming’ or a seasonal return to one’s roots.

In a tweet, Modi said that Durga Puja “highlights the best of our traditions and ethos. And, Kolkata’s Durga Puja is an experience everyone must have.”

“A matter of great pride and joy for every Indian!

“Durga Puja highlights the best of our traditions and ethos. And, Kolkata’s Durga Puja is an experience everyone must have,” Modi tweeted.(SAM)

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