Durga Puja inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Today, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 16th session, taking place virtually from 13 to 18 December this year.
As a ten-day celebration, Durga Puja represents the collective worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga. During this time, masterfully designed clay models of the Goddess are worshipped in “pandals” or pavilions where communities get together and celebrate. Several folk music, culinary, craft, and performing arts traditions add to the dynamism of this celebration.
While Durga Puja is one of the most important festivals of West Bengal, India, it is widely observed across the country and in major cities of the world by the Bengali diaspora. Over the years, the Indian city of Kolkata has emerged as the geographical and cultural heart of the national and global celebrations of the festival.
The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity currently has 492 elements. It includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance. By enhancing the visibility of communities’ cultural practices and know-how, UNESCO aims to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of communities globally.
The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage promotes the protection of knowledge and skills necessary for traditional artisanship and cultural practices transmitted from generation to generation, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, and knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe.