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Kolkata Durga Puja enters UNESCO's 'Intangible Heritage' list

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    21st Dec, 2021


Recently, UNESCO announced that the Durga Puja in Kolkata has been inscribed on the agency's list of 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.

  • In total, 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage elements from the country have now been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List.


Important facts 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’.
  • 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.
  • During this time, intricately-designed clay models of the Goddess are worshipped in ‘pandals’ and pavilions where people get together. 
    • Folk music, culinary, craft, and performing arts traditions are a part of the celebration.

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

  • The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity has 492 elements currently. 
  • It includes “forms of expression that testifies to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance”. 
  • UNESCO intends to enhance the “visibility of communities’ cultural practices and know-how”, aiming to “safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of communities globally”.
  • According to UNESCO, “cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. 
    • It also 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's 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' list

  • Apart from the Kolkata Durga Puja, these were also included in UNESCO's list of 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.
    • The Saint John celebrations in Venezuela
    • The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated in Panama
    • The Bolivian Grand Festival of Tarija
    • Nora, an acrobatic form of dance theatre from southern Thailand
    • Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya, a form of traditional music from Aleppo (Syria)
    • Congolese rumba and Xòe, a Vietnamese dance form
    • Ceebu Jën, a Sengalese culinary art form
    • Pasillo, a type of music and dance that emerged in Ecuador

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