The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- In total, 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage elements from India have now been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List.
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.
About Durga Puja:
Durga Puja is a five-day festival which begins on the fifth night of the nine-day Navratri festival and ends on the tenth day, which is Dashami. During this time, people collectively worship and invoke Goddess Durga, who is regarded as the feminine energy of the cosmos, also known as ‘Shakti’.
- Though originating in West Bengal, which has the largest Bengali community in the country, the festival is celebrated in many other parts of India, and also the world.
- Many regard it as an emotion more than a festival.
- It is a classic fusion of religion and culture.
What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?
UNESCO says, Intangible Cultural Heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
- UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance.
- The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect.
As of 2010 the programme compiles two lists:
- The longer, Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, comprises cultural “practices and expressions [that] help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.”
- The shorter, List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, is composed of those cultural elements that concerned communities and countries consider to require urgent measures to keep them alive.