UNESCO Provides A Preview Exhibition Of The Art Behind Durga Puja

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage, UNESCO has included 90 events from around the world on its website
An idol of Durga being worked on at Kumartuli
An idol of Durga being worked on at Kumartuli Shutterstock

Kolkata is getting ready for the city's biggest festival. Idols are being built in the ancient potters workshops of Kumartuli, pandals are coming up everywhere, and people are busy planning their puja wardrobe for the five days of Durga Puja 2023.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Unesco has included 90 events from around the world on its website.

A preview exhibition of Durga Puja, which began last year, is among the website's prominent events.

The Preview Show is an attempt to provide travellers from all over the world and across the country a chance to explore the art of Durga puja before the rituals begin. People will have to pre-register in order to be invited to a select list of the greatest pandals in town.

In 2021, Durga Puja was enlisted in UNESCO's 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' list. Recognising the festival's distinct character, UNESCO inscribed Durga Puja in Kolkata on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The announcement was made by the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage during its 16th session at Paris, France.

Historian Dr Tapati Guha-Thakurta and her team helped in preparing the dossier which was sent to UNESCOo by the Union cultural ministry.

Her seminal work, "In The Name of The Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata," unravels the festival's transition over the years from a largely community-led celebration to a grand spectacle, where the pandal has become a locus of celebration, art, and conversation.

Her wealth of knowledge collected while researching for the book and genuine admiration for a festival she's grown up watching led her to explore the festival's evolution into an extravaganza and champion its status as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Read Tapati Guha Thakurta's interview with Outlook Traveller here.

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