NEW DELHI: Taking a dig at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday said it was "horrendous" that a state government that "banned" Durga Puja and idol immersion was taking credit for the inclusion of the festival in UNESCO's list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Addressing a press conference here, she said the Ministry of Culture has also sent a proposal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include Garba dance from Gujarat in its list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Earlier this month, Banerjee had led a rally celebrating the inclusion of 'Durga Puja in Kolkata' in UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
"The West Bengal chief minister must be very busy and the advice she is receiving from her advisors is questionable," Lekhi, the Minister of State for Culture, taunted.
She said a proposal was sent by the culture ministry to include Durga Puja in UNESCO's list in 2019 which was accepted in December 2021.
The MoS added that it was a matter of pride for entire India that Durga Puja was inscribed in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage and "politics on it was improper".
"It is horrendous that a state government which banned Durga Puja and idol immersion was taking credit for this feat," she said.
She noted that all the traditions of the country should be appreciated in one voice, adding that Durga Puja was as much important in southern and western India as it was in eastern India.
Lekhi said the Ministry of Culture will honour artisans, artists and those associated with Durga Puja celebrations at Kolkata on September 24.
"I urge everybody to come together this year and celebrate the inscription of Durga Puja in the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage," she said, adding that she will herself felicitate 30 artisans and artistes, including 'dhakis', idol and pandal makers and others associated with the Durga Puja festival.
The minister also said that the Ministry of Education is the nodal agency for UNESCO in India while the Ministry of Culture is involved in preparing dossiers for inscriptions on UNESCO list and the Ministry of External Affairs mobilises international support to get the proposal voted successfully at the UNESCO.
She informed that with the help of Sangeet Natak Akademi of culture ministry, the dossier for Durga Puja was prepared and sent to UNESCO.
"Everyone should rise over petty politics. Nominating Durga Puja for the Intangible Cultural Heritage list is country's pride," she said.
"As per the direction, we nominated Durga Puja because cutting across states, it is celebrated by everyone. In this process, it brings everyone together, it's unity in diversity," she added.