In a major appreciation for the biggest festival in the Bengali calendar, UNESCO has added Durga Puja to its ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, a first of its kind in Asia.
In a tweet, the UN body wrote: “Celebrations of city of joy – Kolkata! Durga puja has been added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
The 16th Committee of UNESCO for safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) at its meeting held in Paris on Wednesday inscribed Durga Puja in Kolkata on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity.
It is the first festival in Asia to make it to the list of ICH of Humanity. There were altogether 48 nominations submitted for inscription on the list.
The nominations were reviewed by an evaluation body which made recommendations to the Committee for its decision. The body comprised six ICH experts. The Committee approved the decision of the inscription of Durga Puja in Kolkata on the list.
UNESCO also commended the concerned organisations in Kolkata for their initiatives to involve marginalised groups and individuals as well as women in their participation in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage.
The other festivals/carnivals which have been recognised as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are three each from South America and Europe.
The inclusion of Durga Puja in the list underlines the importance of the festival in the public life of Bengalis, and the efforts made by the government of West Bengal to highlight the cultural richness of Bengal in this prism to the international community, involving people from all faiths and communities.
The Durga Puja carnival organised at the end of the festivities on the Red Road in Kolkata is a unique event and only of its kind in the country. It attracts people from all walks of life who collectively celebrate the rich and diverse culture of Bengal epitomised in the Durga Puja festival.
In a press release, the state government said, “We are proud of our Durga Puja and it is our proud and historic moment. It is a red-letter day for us. Bengal is now ‘Biswa Bangla’ in a real sense. Congratulations to all the people of Bengal, the country and the world. We convey our thanks and gratitude to UNESCO for the recognition bestowed on this great festival as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
Moreover, the world-renowned Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa order of Buddhism have won the prestigious Martial Arts Education Prize 2021 from the Unesco International Centre for Martial Arts.
The prize recognized the Kung Fu Nuns’ heroic acts of service and championing gender equality across the Himalayas. Through martial arts, the Drukpa nuns empower young girls to defend themselves, build confidence, and take on leadership roles in their communities.
This award from UNESCO ICM also recognizes the Kung Fu Nuns’ work in Indian and Nepali communities hit, especially hard by the pandemic, leaving many marginalized groups in need of supplies and education.