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Ahead of Durga Puja 2022, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee makes BIG announcement

UNESCO Director Eric Falt along with his team will be visiting Kolkata next week for celebrations of Durga Puja.

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced that the government has decided to increase the grant for the Durga Puja organising committees in the state from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000.CM Banerjee also declared a holiday period from September 30 to October 10."The government holidays for Durga Puja will begin from September 30 to October 10. Last year, the Durga Puja committees received financial assistance of Rs 50,000. This year the committees will get Rs 60,000," said Mamata Banerjee.

She further said that the concession on electricity charges incurred by puja committees would be raised to 60 per cent from the current 50 per cent.

The Bengal Chief Minister said this after presiding over a coordination meeting with organisers of community Durga Puja. In 2018 the TMC government decided to give money to community Durga Puja clubs. In Bengal, the Durga Puja celebrations have often become a political issue as well.

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UNESCO on December 15 inscribed "Durga Puja in Kolkata" on the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".

"Congratulations! Durga puja is now inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! 14 ICH elements from India have been inscribed on this list by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage," UNESCO had tweeted.

Meanwhile, UNESCO Director Eric Falt along with his team will be visiting Kolkata next week for celebrations of Durga Puja after it was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list last December.

Speaking with ANI about his visit to Kolkata next week, the UNESCO Director said, "I will be visiting Kolkata together with my colleague next week together with my colleague from Paris... first we will have events here in New Delhi with central government and then we will move on to Kolkata and also we are going to Rajasthan... indeed in Kolkata we will be having celebrations of Durga Puja which was inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage representative last year."

"It is a wonderful celebration and I think India has many festivals and definitely it’s one of the most important. You may know also that India has nominated Garba to be inscribed in 2022 -- the next meeting of the UNESCO will take place in November," he added.

Moreover, UNESCO and Royal Enfield, the oldest motorcycle brand, have come together in a special partnership to promote and safeguard the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, beginning with the Himalayas.

Speaking with ANI in Delhi, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Director said, "Everybody knows UNESCO through its world heritage sites and for 20 years we have also worked across India with the government of India to promote and safeguard the intangible cultural heritage, the living heritage of the country that goes from music to old traditions to arts and crafts and much more.

"Celebrated in Shukla Paksha of the month Ashwin in the Hindu calendar (September-October), Durga Puja is the major annual festival in West Bengal. It is also celebrated in other parts of India and especially amongst the Bengali diaspora. The 10-day festival marks the worship of Goddess Durga. Months before the festival, artisanal workshops in Kolkata sculpt idols of Durga and her children (Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh) using unfired clay from the riverbed of Ganga.

The festival marks its beginning on the day of Mahalaya when the ritual of ‘pran pratistha’ is done by painting the eyes on the goddess idol. Sasthi, Saptami, Ashtami...every day the festival has its own significance and set of rituals. The celebrations culminate on the tenth day known as Vijaya Dashami when the idols are immersed in the river from where the clay was sourced.

The significance of Durga Puja goes beyond religion and is revered as the celebration of compassion, brotherhood, humanity, art and culture. The city of Kolkata turns into a dazzling diva with the decoration of colourful lights.

The sound of ‘dhaak’ reverberates across the city. From new clothes to delicious food, there remains a merry-go-round mood during these days.

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