A city school used Durga Puja as a mode to teach students about social inclusion and the heritage of the city. This year, Unesco inscribed Durga Puja of Kolkata on its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity.
Mahadevi Birla World Academy thus thought it apt to use the festival as a teaching tool for students across classes. Kolkata’s Durga Puja made it to the global list because of the inclusive nature of the festival, many teachers said. They felt it was important to convey to students the values of humanity, secularism and togetherness.
The school told the students that the festival reinforces community feeling. “Durga Puja gives children an opportunity to come together and celebrate, irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” said Nupur Ghosh, vice-principal of the school.
“A festival of this magnitude gives the school an opportunity to talk about acceptance and tolerance. Unesco included Durga Puja on the list of “intangible cultural heritage” because of its inclusive nature and as teachers, it is important for us to uphold these values to the students,” said Ghosh. The school had several activities for the students in the run-up to Durga Puja.
Class I students were taken to a pandal at Park Circus Maidan. The artists at the pandal told them how the pandal depicted the story of the victory of good over evil, said a teacher.
A poster made by the students of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.Sourced by The Telegraph
A visit to the pandal was not merely to appreciate the artwork but to understand the thought that goes behind the pandal making, added the teacher.
“It is a festival of humanism and not restricted to one religion alone,” said Ghosh.
The students were also asked to keep “their eyes and ears” open for how inclusive a pandal is for individuals with special needs. The school used the festival as a subject not only to teach values of inclusion, humanity, and oneness, but Durga Puja also made it to the English class. Examples from Durga Puja were part of the topic “phrases and clauses” in Class VIII.
“We are trying to make the students understand the heritage value of the festival,” said Anjana Saha, principal of the school.