Sangeet Natak Akademi nominates Durga Puja for UNESCO's cultural heritage tag
Kolkata: Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's apex cultural body, has nominated Kolkata's Durga puja to be included in UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for the year 2020. It may be mentioned that it was Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had prodded the state Tourism department to make a serious pitch to have the Durga Puja festival listed by UNESCO.
The department made a presentation to a team from UNESCO to have the festival listed in the latter's 'List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.
A team had visited the city in January and in a meeting with representatives from across the country as well as the South Asian countries, sought preliminary applications from all of them them about the tangible and intangible heritage of their respective states and countries. The meeting was hosted by the state Tourism department.
Bengal's Durga Puja has been showcased in a big way across the globe with Banerjee ushering in a grand end to the Puja by organising a stunning Red Road carnival where as many as 70 of the city's best-known Durga idols paraded this year. The he extravaganza, touted to be second only to the renowned Rio Carnival stepped into its third year in 2018. In its nomination of Durga Puja for the Representative List, the SNA stated that: "Durga Puja is the best instance of the public performance of religion and art in the city. It witnesses a celebration of craftsmanship, cross-cultural transactions and cross-community revelry. …….The exemplary character of Durga Puja lies in its ability to not temporarily bind itself to the ritual occasion. Its dynamism lies in it being a constantly mutating event – in its fusion of tradition with changing tastes and popular cultures, and in the adaptation of the iconographies of Durga and the styles of her temporary abodes to cater to new regimes of art production."
It may be mentioned that every year, UNESCO adds to its list of ICH cultural traditions and arts from around the world, either as 'In Need of Urgent Safeguarding' or in its 'Representative List of ICH of Humanity'. India's nominees are proposed by the SNA which was appointed as the nodal agency for ICH by the Union Ministry of Culture in 2011. India currently has 13 ICH on the list, including the Kumbh Mela, the dance forms of Chhau, Kalbelia and Mudiyettu , Vedic and Buddhist chanting and the tradition of brass and copper utensil making in Punjab's Jandiala Guru.