Saturday, February 4

West Bengal to pitch Durga Puja for Unesco World Heritage tag

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If things go according to plans, your favourite Durga Puja will soon get a world heritage status from Unesco. The state government has prepared a dossier to pitch for the status and will introduce it to Unesco officials as they visit the city for two days from Thursday. While Durga Puja will vie for the intangible heritage crown, the state government will also pitch for the world heritage tag for Bishnupur in Bankura – the cradle of Bengal’s terracotta temples.

A team from Unesco will be in the city to meet state representatives from across the country and also that of all South Asian countries and seek preliminary applications from them about tangible and intangible heritage of their respective states and countries. The granting of heritage status for Ahmedabad city is a case in point. The Unesco visit is being partnered by the state tourism department. The Unesco team will advise the state representatives about how to pitch the applications properly, because inappropriate applications in the past have often weakened their cases. It would be interesting to note that earlier the state government had pitched for Dalhousie Square, Bishnupur and Shantiniketan for the world heritage tag, which is still eluding us.

Officials in the state tourism department said that chief minister Mamata Banerjee had herself taken a lot of interest in pitching for an intangible heritage status for Durga Puja. Enthused by the excitement that the Durga Puja procession on Red Road had elicited in the last two years, which was her own brainchild, the CM had asked the tourism department to pitch for the crown for the festival.

“We are preparing a dossier on Durga Puja explaining its history, its myriad traditions and socio-economic importance that has transcended all boundaries…” said state tourism secretary, Atri Bhattacharya. “We are also preparing the papers for the terracotta temple dotted Bishnupur and hope that we are able to make it this time,” Bhattacharya added.

The West Bengal Heritage Commission will also be part of the official representation that will meet the Unesco officials that day. Heritage conservationist, Partha Ranjan Das, who will represent the Commission that day said that he will refresh the demand for Dalhousie and a slice of North Kolkata for the world heritage tag, when asked to make his submission. “It will be relatively easier to present the case for Dalhousie because of the nature of buildings, but we must try to push for North Kolkata too, especially from College Street to Sovabazar Rajbari because that region has distinct architectural features typical to the city’s heritage. The tag will also help to push for stringent laws on heritage preservation,” Das added.

Source: Times of India

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