UNESCO Heritage Status for Durga Puja

Kolkata’s Durga Puja is India’s official nomination for the 2020 edition of the UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Durga Puja is not only a religious festival, it is the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengal. Though predominantly originated in the Hindu ritual and legends, the Durga Puja celebration cross cuts the communal divide in many of its attributes. It is an epitome of harmony across caste, class, creed and religion.

Om Ali — bread pudding of Arab world

Um Ali: A dessert born in blood

Recently, I attended an Iftar party at a luxury hotel in Baghdad. After I finished the food, I found a nice, sweet dessert there, called Om Ali — a simple concoction: bread and pastry are combined with raisins, pistachios, coconut and almonds, then drenched in sweetened milk. It’s not the story of a royal chef preparing an innovative dish at the behest of a discerning king, but of a murder and a rather cruel one! 

Al-Mustansiriyya Madrasa: Oldest seat of learning in Iraq

In 1227 CE, the thirty-seventh Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah (reigned 1226-1242 CE) commissioned the construction of Al-Mustansiriyya madrasa in the capital city of Baghdad named in his honour. Construction lasted for six years and the school opened in 1234 CE. It was one of the oldest madrasas in the world. Al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa stands as a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance over the centuries and demonstrates that barbarism and terrorism of any kind, at any period, cannot prevail over culture and knowledge.