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Bengal, Odisha battle for rasgulla likely to take a bitter, legal turn

Bengal minister says will file case to declare sweetmeat originated in his state and not in Odisha

india Updated: Nov 09, 2017 14:53 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
rasgulla,origin of rosogolla,rasagola
Rasgulla Rosogulla

A bitter fight between Bengal and Odisha over the origin of the syrupy sweetmeat rosogolla, or rasagolla, is likely to reach the courts.

Bengal’s food processing minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah said his government will not “let Odisha claim the credit” for developing the rosogolla.

“Bengal is the origin of rosogolla... We have decided to move court. Let the court decide. We will pursue the matter till the very end,” Mollah told HT.

The battle intensified in 2015 when Odisha’s science and technology minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi told media that more than one committee set up to trace the origin of the dessert pointed to ‘conclusive evidence’ that rosogolla existed in the state for about 600 years.

The debate over the origin of the rasgulla — as it is known in north India — is not merely about protecting Bengali and Odiya sentiments. The bragging rights will likely translate into good business for confectioners in the two states.

According to an official of the Bengal government, the court petition will be filed in tandem with an application for a Geographical Indication (GI) recognition to cement the origin debate. A GI tag is a sort of intellectual property identifier recognising the origin of a product.

For instance, Darjeeling tea has been given a GI tag for Darjeeling. In at least the Darjeeling region, native tea growers can challenge the sale of a product claiming to be Darjeeling tea if it was not sourced from their gardens.

The Bengal government quotes nineteenth century history to claim rosogolla was invented by Nabin Chandra Das, a famous sweetmeat maker, in 1868.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen on showcasing the dessert as Bengal’s ambassador on the global stage. Her idea found support from the sweet makers in the state.

The Odisha government, on the other hand, quotes historical researches to claim ‘rasagolla’ originated in Puri. Its first avatar was ‘kheer mohana’, which later evolved as ‘pahala rasagolla’.

On July 30, 2015, the Odisha government launched a social-media campaign #RasagollaDibasa to celebrate its origin. An exhibition and awareness event was also organised in Bhubaneswar by confectioners of Odisha.

Rosogolla has been available in Odisha’s mutts and temples for about six centuries, the Odisha minister had then said.

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 14:53 IST