The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday announced that it has added Kolkata’s Durga Puja to its “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list.
The 16th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage that began on December 13 has made the inclusion.
While commending the values which the Durga Puja festival represents, UNESCO wrote on its website, “…During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.” It is also “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.”
According to UNESCO cultural heritage is not limited to monuments and collections of objects but also includes “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants”.
People across the state and the country have welcomed the decision with festive fervour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi retweeted the UNESCO announcement and wrote, “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.”
The chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee also shared the news on Twitter and wrote: “…To every #Bengali across the world, Durga Puja is much more than a festival, it is an emotion that unites everyone…”