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Indian Heritage & Culture

Durga Puja on UNESCO’s ICH

  • 16 Dec 2021
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: UNESCO ICH of Humanity, UNESCO, Man and Biosphere Programme, World Heritage Programme, UNESCO Global Geopark Network, UNESCO's Network of Creative Cities

For Mains: Importance of protecting Cultural Heritage for India, Significance of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Why in News

Recently, Durga Puja in Kolkata has been inscribed on the UNESCOs Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity.

Key Points

  • Durga Puja: 
    • Durga Puja is a five-day festival which begins on the fifth night of the nine-day Navratri festival and ends on the tenth day, which is Dashami.
    • During this time, people collectively worship and invoke Goddess Durga, who is regarded as the feminine energy of the cosmos, also known as ‘Shakti’.
    • It is one of the largest cultural carnivals and street art festivals of the country.
    • During this time, intricately-designed clay models of the Goddess are worshiped in ‘pandals’ and pavilions where people get together.
      • Folk music, culinary, craft, and performing arts traditions are a part of the celebration.
    • Though originating in West Bengal, which has the largest Bengali community in the country, the festival is celebrated in many other parts of India, and also the world.
  • Significance:
    • It acknowledges the festival’s contribution in sustaining and safeguarding a multitude of traditional arts and crafts, well-being and economic empowerment of communities, and energizing creativity.
      • Earlier this year (2021), the British Council in India had mapped the creative economy of Durga Puja to over Rs. 32,000 crore for the year 2019 and added that the festival contributes 2.58% of West Bengal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:
    • This coveted list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
    • According to UNESCO cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects.
      • It 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.
    • The list was established in 2008 when the Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.
    • India is also a signatory of the 2003 UNESCO Convention which aims for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage along with traditions and living expression.
  • Inscripted Elements:
    • Currently, it has 492 elements from which India now has 14 intangible cultural heritage elements on the prestigious UNESCO Representative List of ICH of Humanity.
    • Other than the Durga Puja there are 13 Traditions in India recognised by UNESCO as ICH .


Source: PIB

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