Kolkata’s Durga Puja is just a step away to get a recognition in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list of 2020 by UNESCO. Sangeet Natak Akademi, an organisation of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, has selected Durga Puja for India’s official nomination for UNESCO 2020 list of the cultural institutions from around the world keeping consent from state tourism department.
Atri Bhattachrya, principal secretary for state departments of Home & Hill Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs and Tourism, told The Statesman, “It is indeed a very good news for us that Durga Puja has received an official nomination. I am yet to get a confirmation about the news of being enlisted in the category. Through this process our Durga Puja will get recognition across the world. The festival has been turned into a carnival where Bengal already receives many foreign tourists during the Puja season.”
In a letter of consent for the nomination for possible inscription on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO, Mr Bhattacharya has written, “We believe that Durga Puja is the most important cultural festival of the city and it best reflects our aspirations, values and interests. We are very hopeful that Durga Puja’s inscription in this list will give the festival an international recognition and prestige that it deserves.”
In support of the reasons for nominating, the principal secretary has also stated that Durga Puja was originally a Hindu religious festival but now the celebration has transcended all barriers of religion and creed, making it a grand celebration, an exultation of sprit.”
“Over the years, the social liberal polity of Bengal has accommodated a vast range of socio-cultural themes as well as various folk art and craft forms in the design of the idols, pandals and illumination at the community pujas, thus making it the greatest public art installation in the world,” the letter stated.
Being closely associated with Durga Puja for years, Sabarna Roy Choudhury Paribar Parishad who started Durga Puja in the year 1610 and is well-known for being the oldest Durga Puja of Kolkata, Kumartuli Sarbojanain Durgostsav, Sovabajar Sarbojanin Durgostsav and many other popular and old clubs, who perform Durga Puja every year in the city were asked for the consent on behalf of the nomination.
The nomination dossier has been prepared by the research team at Jadunath Bhavan Museum and Resource Centre (JBMRC) led by Professor Tapati Guha Thakurta. The team began by reviewing academic literature and media reports on Durga Puja alongside exploring the archival material on the element available at JBMRC.
Later, the Union Ministry of Culture approved the nomination and sent it to the UNESCO under the deadline of 31 March. The entire report has a detailed description of the ritual and the way of performing Durga Puja along with pictures and videos and how people from different stage are involved in the programme.
Durga Puja, though being an autumn festival gets its preparation throughout the entire year. The biggest street art is a way for the earning of thousands of people. The state government has started a carnival since 2015 which draws tourists from across the world.