UNESCO has added Durga Puja in Kolkata to its 2021 list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, giving international recognition to the biggest religious festival of the 331-year-old city and the state of West Bengal. The UNESCO’s announcement was welcomed by Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) as chief minister Mamata Banerjee is widely recognized as the biggest patron of the festival.
With the inclusion of Durga Puja, the number of elements in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage from India has increased to 14. As many as 36,946 community Durga Pujas are organised in Bengal. Of these, around 2,500 are held in Kolkata. In recent years, several organisations had urged UNESCO to recognise the festival.
About the Durga Puja:
Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in September or October, most notably in Kolkata, in West Bengal of India, but also in other parts of India and amongst the Bengali diaspora. Durga Puja is seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as thriving ground for collaborative artists and designers. The festival is characterized by large-scale installations and pavilions in urban areas, as well as by traditional Bengali drumming and veneration of the Goddess. During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.