The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Wednesday added the celebration of Durga Puja in Kolkata to its “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list. With this, India now has 14 items on the Unesco list including Kumbh Mela, Ramlila and Nowrouz.
The decision to include Kolkata’s Durga Puja to the list was taken on the second day of the 16th session of the intergovernmental committee in Paris. The session, which started on Monday, will conclude on December 18.
“Durga Puja is seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as a thriving ground for collaborative artists and designers,” the Unesco said on its website. “During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.”
Durga Puja is celebrated over 10 days in September-October. The religious event marks the homecoming of Hindu deity Durga and her children.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the announcement as “a matter of great pride and joy” for Indians. In a tweet, the prime minister said one must experience Kolkata’s Durga Puja at least once in their lifetime.
West Bengal Chief Minister said it was proud moment for her state. “...Durga Puja is much more than a festival, it is an emotion that unites everyone,” she added.
This Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage was first released in 2008 with the aim of ensuring better protection of important cultural heritages across the world and spreading awareness on their significance.
The committee that decides on the entries examines requests submitted by states. In September, the West Bengal tourism department had forwarded a proposal to the Union Ministry of Culture, which then sent it to Unesco, reported The Outlook.
The last time an Indian event got added to the list was the the Kumbh Mela in 2017. Before that, yoga was included in the list in 2016. Traditional brass and copper craft of Punjab got the honour in 2014 while the Chhau folk dance of West Bengal, along with Mudiyettu of Kerala and Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan got it in 2010. In 2008, Ramlila was added to the list.