About the festival
- Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in September or October, most notably in Kolkata, in West Bengal, but also in other parts of India.
- It marks the ten-day worship of the Hindu mother-goddess Durga.
- It is a five-day event that begins on the fifth night of the Navratri festival and concludes on Dashami, the tenth day.
- Durga Puja is seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as a 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.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed “Durga Puja in Kolkata” on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.
- This is the first festival in Asia to achieve the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status.
- It recognises the festival’s contribution to sustaining and safeguarding a plethora of traditional arts and crafts, community well-being and economic empowerment, and energising creativity.
- With this, India now has 14 intangible cultural heritage elements on the UNESCO list.
Why in News?
- Speaking at a function to commemorate the recognition of Durga Puja by UNESCO, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the recognition is a matter of pride not only for Bengal but for the entire country.
UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- According to UNESCO, cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects, but 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 established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of such 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.
- Previously, the following 13 traditional-cultural elements of India have been added into this list:
- Tradition of Vedic chanting
- Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana
- Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre
- Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas
- Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
- Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
- Chhau dance of Eastern India
- Buddhist chanting of Ladakh
- Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
- Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab
- Kumbh Mela