India holds celebrations to mark inclusion of Durga Puja in UNESCO list
New Delhi: India on Saturday held a celebration here to mark the UNESCO tag awarded to Kolkata’s Durga puja festival last December, as it reaffirmed its commitment to protect and preserve its rich intangible cultural heritage.
The event was held at the National Museum here in the presence of top officials of the UNESCO, who praised India for its iconic and historic monuments as well its rich and diverse living heritage.
The Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage had added Durga Puja in Kolkata to its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last December.
It received the honour during its 16th session held at Paris, France.
The Committee had commended Durga Puja for its initiatives to involve marginalised groups, and individuals as well as women in their participation in safeguarding the element.
Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, which hosted the event, said, “We are gathered here to celebrate the inclusion of Durga Puja in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which is the 14th ICH element to have been inscribed on the list”.
The 10-day festival which will kick off from the last week of next month represents the “feminine ‘shakti’ (power)”.
In her address, she emphasised on the “time-tested friendship” between India and UNESCO, and charted the country’s association with the world since its early days.
India was recently elected as one of the members of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Secretary of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tim Curtis, and Director and UNESCO Representative for the UNESCO New Delhi Office, Eric Falt, were present on the dais during the event.
“India, perhaps offers more intangible cultural heritage practices than any other country in the world. And, many of them are in need of safeguarding. We at UNESCO work closely with the government of India in preservation of monument and the intangible cultural heritage, which many times tourists miss or are not much aware about,” Falt said in his address.
And, the recent inclusion of Durga Puja in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, represents how all stakeholders came together, he said.
A capacity building workshop on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) was also launched on the occasion.
This event also kick-starts a year-long series of capacity building, including workshops, ICH-related activities and programmes, Pandeya said.
“Diverse cultures, traditions and rich ethos! India’s rich heritage is unparalleled in the world. Being one of the earliest signatories in the Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH, India is constantly fostering ways to highlight its living heritage,” the Ministry of Culture tweeted.
A dance performance by troupe on the theme of Durga Puja was also hosted at the event.