To draw the attention of the UNESCO to declare Kolkata as its first designated ‘City of Literature’ in India, organisers of a Durga Puja in northern part of the city have set up their puja pandal on the theme of ‘Kavigurur Shantinir’ or Tagore’s ‘Abode of Peace.’
Marking its 76th year, the Chaltabagan Durga Puja Committee has come up with this unique theme this year to convince the UNESCO that Kolkata is not only a ‘City of Joy’ but also a ‘City of Literature.’
Sundeep Bhutoria, Chaltabagan Durga Puja Committee chairman said, “Last year Chaltabagan had invited leading authors and poets of Bengal to the puja. This year we have kept the Tagore theme because we want UNESCO to declare Kolkata as the first UNESCO designated ‘City of Literature’ in India for which efforts have already begun.
“I personally think, given the literary heritage, diversity and richness, Kolkata is one of the strongest contenders for such recognition by the UNESCO.”
The UNESCO ‘City of Literature’ programme is part of its Creative Cities Network launched in 2004.
Among the cities that have already been declared “City of Literature” includes Baghdad (Iraq), Milan (Italy), Norwich (UK), Edinburgh (Scotland), Prague (Czech Republic), Melbourne (Australia), Granada and Barcelona (Spain), IOWA City (USA), Dublin (Ireland), Krakow (Poland), Raykjavic (Iceland), Heidelberg (Germany) and Quebec (Canada).
Cities submit bids to UNESCO to be designated City of Literature. These are monitored and reviewed every four years by the UNESCO.
The motifs and reliefs at the Chaltabagan pandal convey Rabindranath Tagores universal message of peace and harmony which beautifully blends with the religious ambience of the puja mandap. There is also an innovative display of books at the mandap’s ceiling.
Solar lights have been used extensively to light up the mandap at night.
Manicktalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga puja, one of the popular pujas of the city, was inaugurated by Sudip Bandopadhyay, Trinamool Congress MP in the presence of state’s Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey and Gouri Basu, Director, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC), among others.
This Puja has won several awards over the years for its innovative and environment-friendly themes such as use of brass work engraved on wood, use of coconut shells in 2015, glass in 2011, Mughal style in 2010, Mahabharat chariot in 2006 among others.