The Union ministry of culture organised a felicitation programme at Indian Museum in Kolkata on September 24 to honour a group of 30 artisans, artists and those who are intimately involved in making the idols for Durga Puja and pandals which give the entire festival its fanfare and fervour.
The clay artists who create the idols of Durga, members of bonedi (aristocratic) families, pandal makers, artists, Dhakis, priests, jewellery makers and illustrators of the idols among others were felicitated.
Union minister of state for culture and external affairs, Meenakashi Lekhi, and Subhas Sarkar, Union minster of state for education, were present on the occasion.
As part of promoting India’s intangible cultural heritage, Lekhi highlighted the importance of inscription of Durga Puja in the Unesco’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and urged everybody to come together and celebrate the recognition of the festival at the international level.
Lekhi also emphasised on the concerted efforts of the government in promoting the incredible cultural heritage of India. She said: “India has been selected to the Intergovernmental Committee of Unesco’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for the 2022-26 cycle. Along with achieving this feat, India has sent Garba as the next consideration in the Unesco’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
Giving more details, the minister explained the lengthy procedure involved and how the whole of government approach made it possible to get Durga Puja successfully inscribed on Unesco’s list.
Lekhi said the ministry of education is the nodal agency for Unesco in India while ministry of culture is involved in preparing dossiers for inscriptions on Unesco list and the ministry of external affairs mobilises international support to get the proposal voted successfully at the Unesco.
She added: “Nominating the Durga Puja in Intangible Cultural Heritage list is the country’s pride. We have taken all the advice into consideration and as per the direction we nominated Durga Puja as the Intangible culture of the country because cutting across states, it is celebrated by everyone. In this process, it brings everyone together, it’s unity in diversity.”