The Durga Puja festival in Kolkata has been recognized as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The recognition was given on Wednesday after the 16th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intangible Heritage, a UNESCO International Committee on Elusive Cultural Heritage.
There is no pair of Durgotsab in the Indian subcontinent. In almost every state of India including West Bengal, Tripura and Assam, Bengalis gather for this autumn festival.
This festival is also celebrated in Bangladesh every year. The West Bengal government has applied to UNESCO this year for international recognition of the universal festival. The recognition was announced on Wednesday at the end of a UNESCO virtual conference on December 13-18, after verification and selection of the application.
For several years now, the Durga Puja festival has been held on the Red Road in Kolkata. Hundreds of puja committees from Kolkata and surrounding areas attended the function. With the idol, the people of Calcutta rejoiced on the Red Road. All the famous stars including the movie arena joined the carnival. Various socio-cultural and sports organizations of Calcutta also joined it.
In August this year, the West Bengal government applied to UNESCO through the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to give the festival an international title. In response to the request of the West Bengal government, UNESCO finally included Durgotsab in the list of World Heritage Sites.
After receiving the recognition, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted expressing satisfaction. He said, “This recognition is a source of pride and joy for every Indian. Durga Puja illuminates the best aspects of our culture and tradition. Everyone should have the experience of watching Durga Puja. ‘
In 2013, kirtan songs from the Indian state of Manipur were recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. Then in 2016, Kumbh Mela, one of the religious festivals of India, was also given this recognition.