For years, a seemingly-innocuous question about the origin of a popular sweet in India's east had the potential to turn any discussion bitter. On Tuesday, finally, it was settled that 'rosogolla' — a sweet, syrupy ball of cottage cheese — originated in West Bengal. The state won the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the iconic dessert.
Bengalis obviously celebrated the news (with rosogolla, no doubt) on all platforms of social media — it's a hard-fought victory after all. However, their neighbours in Odisha were understandably upset.
"If such a decision has been taken, certainly justice has not been done with Odisha. Rasagolla has got an age-old bond with Lord Jagannath culture and our other rituals. It has several mythological and other evidence," IANS quoted Odisha's Finance Minister Sahibhusan Behera as saying.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted: "Odisha government is in process of obtaining GI tag for Odishara Rasagolla. It originated in Odisha and is offered at Jagannath Temple as part of religious rituals by people of Odisha since the 12th century."
The Odisha government has vowed to not let Bengal savor this victory. It would battle to get the GI tag for 'Odia Rasagolla' just as Bengal has the certificate for 'Banglar Rosogolla'.
Odisha Government is in process of obtaining GI tag for Odishara Rasagolla. It originated in #Odisha and is offered at Jagannath Temple as part of religious rituals by people of Odisha since centuries. pic.twitter.com/zk0tOAxj7c— CMO Odisha (@CMO_Odisha) November 14, 2017
According to reports, the Odisha government has prepared a detailed document with the help of historians.
"If we apply for GI tag, we can get it for Odisha Rasagola. So, the origin of Rasagola is not settled in anyone's favour," a state government official told IANS.
Senior examiner, GI Chennai, Prasant Kumar said Odisha can always apply for its 'Rasagola' with proper documents to substantiate its claims on origin of 'Odia Rasagola'.
Ah ha! So the GI tag is ONLY for the spongy, usually canned, variety? We should arrange a head-to-head tasting against the succulent, brown, nuclear-attack-on-the-taste-buds varieties from Salipur, Pahalo, & dozens of other places in Odisha with centuries' longer tradition😎 https://t.co/lSBlTsFDLN— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) November 15, 2017
Ha ha looks like we Bengalis won this war. Banglar Rasogolla gets the GI tag that confirms it was originated in Bengal invented by confectioner Nabin Chandra Das. Half a dozen documentary evidence dating back to 1896.https://t.co/nmn2C8VgGV— Sanjukta Basu (@sanjukta) November 15, 2017
Rosogolla, the one sweet that is a part of Odisha's history n life gets a GI tag for Bengal ! U lost rosogolla to Bengal ! @CMO_Odisha why did you fail to convince ?— Rupashree Nanda (@rupashreenanda) November 14, 2017
In this war over the king of sweets, the most confusion has been over how to spell its name.
In local pronunciation, Bengali's call it 'roshogolla', however 'rosogolla' and 'rasogolla' are perfectly acceptable as well. In the north it is pronounced as 'rasgulla'. Similarly Odisha, when it claims its own GI tag, can apply for 'rasagolla', 'rasgulla' or 'rasagola'.
"Geographical indication" is a tag which identifies agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory. However, as this article pointed out, it "would not enable the holder to prevent others from making a product using the same techniques as long as it does not claim the same geographical origin."