From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Santiniketan
Mains level : Not Much
- Situated in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, the small town of Santiniketan has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- This is the place where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore spent much of his life.
- Santiniketan, situated in Birbhum District, West Bengal, India, is an iconic cultural and heritage destination with a rich historical legacy.
- Its prominence is attributed to its association with Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Significance of Santiniketan
- Rabindranath Tagore’s Home: Santiniketan served as the residence of Rabindranath Tagore, where he not only lived but also composed numerous literary works, encompassing songs, poems, and novels.
- Artistic Abode: The Santiniketan campus is adorned with magnificent sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings created by eminent artists like Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay, and others.
- Cultural Festivals: The broader Birbhum District, where Santiniketan is nestled, is renowned for its vibrant fairs and festivals. Notable celebrations include Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), Basanta Utsav (Holi) in March and the renowned mystic Baul Singers.
- Unique Events: Santiniketan hosts special cultural festivities during Bengali New Year and Rabindra Janmotsav (Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary) in the Bengali month of Boisakh, marked with great enthusiasm.
- Distinctive Festivals: The region observes distinctive festivals such as Briksharopan (festival of Planting Saplings) and Halakarshan (festival of Plowing the Fields) on the 22nd and 23rd days of Sravana (August), respectively. Additionally, Varshamangal, the festival of rains, is celebrated in August/September.
- Poush Mela: Santiniketan hosts the annual Poush Mela, commencing on the 7th day of the Poush month. While officially spanning three days, vendors may extend their stay throughout the month. The festival is renowned for live performances of Bengali folk music, particularly by bauls (traditional wandering minstrels), and showcases tribal dances like Santali.
West Bengal’s Presence on the World Heritage List
- Santiniketan is the second cultural symbol from West Bengal to join the prestigious UNESCO list.
- In 2021, UNESCO added ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, highlighting West Bengal’s rich cultural heritage.
Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites||Landmarks or areas selected by UNESCO for their cultural, historical, scientific, or other significant value, legally protected by international treaties.|
|Importance||World Heritage Sites represent collective and preservative interests of humanity, signifying remarkable accomplishments and intellectual history.|
|Selection Criteria||Sites must be already-classified landmarks, unique and significant culturally or physically, such as ancient ruins, historical structures, cities, monuments, etc.|
|Conservation||World Heritage Sites require practical conservation to protect them from risks like trespassing, uncontrolled access, or administrative negligence.|
|World Heritage Committee||Selects and monitors World Heritage Sites, manages the World Heritage Fund, and provides financial assistance. Composed of 21 states parties elected for a four-year term.|
|Membership||India is not a member of the World Heritage Committee.|
Note: “States parties” refer to the countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention and participate in the decision-making process.