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Rosogolla stays with Bengal, bags GI tag

  • Summary: The long controversy over who had invented `rossogolla`, whether Bengal or Odisha has formally come to an end on Tuesday with West Bengal winning the war. West Bengal  obtained the `Geographical Indications of Goods Registration` (GI) tag for it. That officially makes the rossogollaa Bengali invention. Celebration starts across Bengal.

    By Pallab Ghosh

    West Bengal’s bitter struggle with Odisha ended on a sweet note on Tuesday with the State getting GI (Geographical Indication) tag for rosogolla. The GI tag was primarily developed with the purpose of recognising the unique identity connecting different products and places. For a product to get GI tag, it has to have a unique quality, reputation or characteristic which is attributable to its geographic origin.

    The Union ministry of commerce and industry on Tuesday recognised Banglar Rosogolla, the iconic sweet, as deserving of protection under geographical indication (GI), competing claims about its origin from neighbouring Odisha.

    West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who is in London, has congratulated and expressed her happiness over Bengal bagging the GI tag. Banerjee tweeted to express her happiness. Nabanna (West Bengal State Secretariat) had played a significant role in fighting the war against the claim of Odisha.    

    Those familiar with north Kolkata are aware of the iconic sweet shop Nabin Chandra Das in Baghbazar had built his business with rosogolla, in the 1870s. Later on another iconic name in sweet making, K.C. Das helped spread the sweet outside Kolkata by creating a long-life variant sold in cans from 1930. However, according experts on sweets, the rosogolla was first made in Phulia district of West Bengal.   

    It was a celebration time for sweet shops across Kolkata, many of them decorated their shops as a gesture to welcome the GI recognition. People began pouring in at shops to buy rosogolla boosting up the sale. “I reside in Mumbai and whenever I am in the city, I ensure I get rosogolla tins for my family. This time is historical”, said Anuj Jain. Sanjib, a tourist from Dhaka in Bangladesh said, “I seldom come to Kolkata and each time I have rosogolla. Today is so special since our own rosogolla has retained the patent”. Many customers were seen buying large quantity of rosogolla since they wanted to treat their near and dear ones on this ‘big’ day. “I have no hesitation in saying I will have rosogolla in my dinner”, said Sohini Mitra at one of the renowned sweet shop in north Kolkata.     

    The debate had come to surface in 2015 when Odisha claimed that rosogolla happens to originate in Odisha. The state said that a preparation Kheerkamaba was given to Lord Jaganatha as bhog and the ritual had been into practice since a few hundred of years which give Odisha the authority to claim its patent. The West Bengal state government too had staged the claim for patent by saying that Rosogolla is prepared from Chena hence nothing to do with Kheer. It said the recipe is entirely different from that of Odisha. Finally after much tug-of-war Bengal has bagged the GI claim of Rosogolla.

    The `rossogolla war` began in September 2015, after the Odisha government began celebrating `Rossogolla Diwas``, or `Rossogolla Day`, on the day that a festival called `Ulto Ratha` falls. As the famous myth goes the goddess Lakshmi was annoyed when her husband Jagannatha left her alone at home during the `ratha yatra`. On returning back she refused to allow him. To appease her, he had presented a bowl of rossogollas.

    After getting the GI tag for Rosogolla, now no state can sell ‘rosogolla’ since the patent lies with West Bengal State Government and anybody selling rosogolla will now have to write Bangla r Rosogolla (Bengal’s Rosogolla) which will indicate that Rosogolla is Bengal delicacy. Also they will have to take permission from the state which will boost the economy of the state.

    However, for average sweet lover the charm of rosogolla remains the same. The long controversy ends and  `rossogolla` stays with Bengal.

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