Durga Puja Makes it to UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List

Photo: Souvik Laha

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed Kolkata’s Durga Puja on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The annual festival for Bengalis is a week long affair held every year during autumn, where goddess Durga is worshipped.

In the months preceding the festival, artisans sculpt idols of Durga and her family using clay pulled from the Holy Ganges. Mahalaya marks the beginning of Durga Puja when the eyes of the Goddess are painted. Innumerable artisans from around Bengal get involved in the festivities and showcase their arts through the theme-based pandals.

The festival ends on the tenth day, when the idol is immersed in the river from where the clay comes. 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 characterised by large-scale installations and pavilions in urban areas, as well as by the traditional drumming of Dhaak and veneration of the goddess. The divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse during the festivities as thousands throng to pandals to admire the installations.

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