Great and Little Traditions of Durga Festivals in the Banks of River Bhagirathi in West Bengal : Perspectives on Cultural Tourism and Documentation

Premangshu Chakrabarty, Rishita Biswas


Introduced by Redfield in the year 1956, the great tradition and little tradition are the two familiar terms of discourse in the discussion of cultural geographies with a focus on transculturation. This paper is an attempt to analyse various aspects of such discourse relating to the annual Durga festival of West Bengal which has already drawn the attention of UNESCO. The Durga puja of Kolkata has been incorporated into its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in the year 2021. The study focuses on rural Bengal in the eastern and western banks of the sacred river Bhagirathi while investigating the pull factors of the festival for the tourists in relation to rituals affiliated with the great and little traditions. We have used ethnographic methods for data collection involving a questionnaire survey, personal interview, online survey, and participant observation. To address the research gap, we have paid attention to the attributes of the traditions derived from the literature survey and participant observations in the field and attempted Principal Component Analysis to derive their attraction status in relation to traditions for cultural tourism. The results confirm various levels of segregation of the attributes of the great and little traditions from cultural tourism perspectives while a compromise on valuing the heritage is conspicuous from the uniformity of demand maintaining some oases of authenticity. The paper also provides some suggestion on harnessing the power of Informatics to document, preserve, and transmit Durga Puja’s vibrant colours, cultural intricacies, and religious fervour to promote sustainable heritage tourism.


Tradition, Transculturation, Heritage, Ritual, Authenticity

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