Famous for its 10-day-long celebration of Bengali culture and devotion for the eponymous Hindu goddess, Durga Puja has rightfully earned its place on UNESCO’s reputed list.
Celebrated predominantly by Bengali communities in India and abroad, West Bengal’s Durga Puja has been officially recognised by the Union Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The intergovernmental body has inscribed Durga Puja to its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making it the first Asian festival to receive the prestigious title. The announcement was recently made during the 16th annual session of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee held virtually from December 13-18 this year.
Eric Falt, the director at UNESCO New Delhi, said in a press statement: “I would like to offer warm congratulations to India, its people, and especially all those who worked on the nomination dossier. I am confident that this inscription will offer encouragement to the local communities that celebrate Durga Puja, including all the traditional craftspeople, designers, artists, and organizers of large-scale cultural events, as well as tourists and visitors who partake in the inclusive festivity that is Durga Puja.”
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Expressing her gratitude, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister to the state, took to Twitter, saying, “Proud moment for Bengal! To every #Bengali across the world, Durga Puja is much more than a festival, it is an emotion that unites everyone. And now, #DurgaPuja has been added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We are all beaming with joy!”
Set up for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, the UN committee reviews submissions from countries across the world. Durga Puja was this year’s submission for the list from India. In total, 14 intangible cultural elements from the country have made it to the list so far, including Ramlila, Kutiyattam, Yoga, Kumbh Mela, and more.