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UNESCO adds Bengal's Durga Puja to its 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' list
Durga Puja
Image credit: IBNS File

UNESCO adds Bengal's Durga Puja to its 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' list

| @indiablooms | 15 Dec 2021, 08:14 pm

Kolkata/IBNS: West Bengal's iconic festival Durga Puja , which is celebrated in a grand manner in Kolkata, has been added to the UNESCO's "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" list.

The decision was taken during the sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage that is presently observed.

Adding it to the prestigious list, the UNESCO stated: "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 festival is characterized by large-scale installations and pavilions in urban areas, as well as by traditional Bengali drumming and veneration of the goddess. During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations," it said.

Reacting to the announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "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."

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took the opportunity to 'beam with joy'.

In her tweet, she wrote: "Poud moment for Bengal! To every Bengali across the world, Durga Puja is much more than a festival, it is an emotion that unites everyone. And now, DurgaPuja has been added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We are all beaming with joy!"

Unesco established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008 to encourage protection of cultural heritages worldwide and raise awareness.

Durga Puja or Durgostava, the annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the ten-armed Hindu deity Durga along with her four children, has always been synonymous with fun, fiesta and mighty celebrations in which people of all faith participate spontaneously.

The festival-which is observed with much grandeur and fervour in the eastern state of West Bengal-has been for decades not just a part of the culture but is known for bringing fresh lease of life to millions of Bengalis across the country and even abroad.

The five days of puja during which Goddess Durga along with her children- Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik, and Ganesh-is believed to leave her abode in Kailash to be with humans on Earth are not just auspicious but every Bengali awaits round the year.

Goddess Durga's homecoming is an excuse for all non-resident Bengalis to return to their motherland or state and reunite with their families as they celebrate the rituals and festivities.

The city of joy-Kolkata-particularly turns into a big stage of carnival adorning the jewels of pandals (marquees) with an array of lightings and of course the unmissable big hoardings typically spotted during the Durga Pujas.

The festival has also come to signify ‘home-coming’ or a seasonal return to one’s roots, noted the UNESCO.

With the inscription of Durga Puja, India now has 14 intangible cultural heritage elements on the prestigious UNESCO Representative List of ICH of Humanity. In recent years, the  ICH elements that saw inscriptions areKumbh Mela (inscribed 2017), Yoga (inscribed 2016) among others. 

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