Durga Puja Challenge by UNESCO’s Eric Falt – Gear Up!


The representative and director of UNESCO’s cluster office in Delhi have extended a friendly challenge for the puja enthusiasts of the City of Joy. There is a celebration that Falt had witnessed in Vietnam some time back. And the challenge posed is that Kolkata must outperform or outdo the celebrations he had seen in Vietnam to mark jubilations as part of the inscription. 

When Eric Falt visited Kolkata in the first half of the year, The Telegraph managed to have a chat with him. The main point of discussion or chat revolved around Durga Puja. It may be mentioned here that Falt heads the operations of UNESCO about the Indian subcontinent, excluding Pakistan. Also, the main emphasis was laid on the fact that Durga Puja was inscribed on Unesco’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICG) of Humanity. 

The News of the celebrations in the City of Joy reached him at his office in Delhi, which impressed him. He stated that he was utterly surprised at the extraordinary enthusiasm manifested by the people of Kolkata in West Bengal. Not just in Kolkata, he also noticed that these celebrations’ impact occurred throughout the country for the inscription. He said that they derived the information from the ones that supported the media and the candidacy. 

On December 22nd, a rally at the Academy of Fine Arts had enthusiasts and stakeholders walking together with collective pride. The message that could be seen on display only once was “#thanks Unesco 2021”. 

Eric Falt stated that he felt amazing and quite extraordinary to see thousands of enthusiastic people on the street of Kolkata in a celebratory mood with the UNESCO signs. 

However, that rally was prominently an initiative taken by the organizers of Puja, with Puja event planning professionals and artists in the lead. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, announced that a government-backed rally would take place on September 1st. The rally will originate from JorasankoThakurbari at 2 Pm and terminate at Esplanade. 

Eric Falt further confirmed that he would visit Kolkata next week with a colleague from the Unesco headquarters in Paris. 

A prior felicitation had already been planned toward the end of April but was postponed at the last moment as the chief minister expressed her desire to get involved. Falt had then met the chief minister briefly. 

He also revealed that more than just the monuments are listed in the World Heritage Sites. He stated that it is a living heritage of India. Many art forms are equally important. Although India started a little late, it is catching up fast. He said they had three festivals in a row as far as India is concerned. Navroz, in tandem with other nations, Kumbh Mela, and now Durga Puja. He said that the last time he witnessed extraordinary jubilation was when he was invited to Vietnam in 2012 following the inscription of the citadel of Ho. He revealed that the Vietnam people had a celebration involving 50,000 people, and the event was broadcast live. If an event of similar stature could be organized, he said he would stop referring to Vietnam as his landmark and instead refer to Durga Puja while he summed. 

About Author