Tapati Guha Thakurta, the person behind Unesco’s inclusion of Kolkata's Durga Puja on the list of “intangible cultural heritage”, on Thursday shared the credit with puja organisers, artists, artisans, pandal-makers, light decorators, police, state administration and everyone else involved with the Puja.
The art historian was on stage on Red Road and felicitated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her effort in creating the dossier that won the Unesco for Durga Puja.
“The Unesco inscription was awarded in December 2021,” she said in an interview to ABP Ananda.
After two years, the celebrations can be held as it used to be in the pre-Covid times, “without any restrictions”, Guha Thakurta told ABP Ananda.
“Added to this is this international recognition.” Having worked behind the scenes, the art historian is reluctant to be credited for this recognition.
“Humayun’s Tomb has also been nominated for Unesco heritage tag. Do we know who has prepared the dossier for that? Probably, the Unesco site will have the name,” said the professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.
“Artists, pandal makers and other communities who work on Durga Puja know that I have been working on this. The state government has also been aware as we were helped by the then culture secretary, Atri Bhattacharya. Besides, all puja organisers, clubs, para puja committees, apartment blocks helped us as their letters were important to prove the community participation in the Puja, which was one of the crucial criteria for the heritage tag,” she said.
She paid tributes to the “immensely talented artists who have turned the Puja into a public art, an installation”.
It was four pujas ago that Guha Thakurta was approached by the Centre to put together the dossier for the application.
“We worked on a shoestring budget,” she had said at the time the Unesco inscription was declared in 2021.
Her humongous work on Kolkata’s Durga Puja was published in 2015.
It was largely because of this work that Guha Thakurta was approached by the culture ministry to make the dossier for the application for the Unesco tag.
Her book, In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata, looks at how the Puja has evolved, giving a 360-degree view of the entire enterprise starting with artists, artisans, administrators, Kolkata police and tour operators.
It is based on field research between 2002 and 2012 and includes a large number of photographs. She has been lying low rattled by all the social media attention crediting her solely for the Unesco tag.
“All this that is being said in my name is not true and I would not really like to get into any controversy over this credit taking,” she had said a few days ago.