It was sweet victory for West Bengal after a bitter feud over one of India’s most celebrated desserts. On Tuesday, the Geographical Indications (GI) registry announced that the rosogolla (also known as rasgulla) originated in the state, and not in Odisha.
“This has been settled under the GI Act that authenticates products to either geographical locations or to communities or societies,” said Sanjay Bhattacharya, deputy controller of patents and designs in Kolkata, declaring the end to a tussle going back two-and-a-half years and a debate raging for decades.
“Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that #Bengal has been granted GI status for rosogolla,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote on Twitter after the news broke. Abdur Rezzak Mollah, food processing minister in Banerjee’s cabinet, told Hindustan Times that he was “happy and relieved”.
“Earlier, we fought successfully with other states to get the GI registration for the Joynagarer Moa, a popular winter snack made of puffed rice and palm jaggery,” Mollah added.
The battle for the rasogolla intensified in 2015 when Odisha’s science and technology minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi said that more than one committee set up to trace the origin of the sweet had pointed to “conclusive evidence” that ‘rosagolla’ (which is how the dessert is spelt in the state) existed for about 600 years. Odisha contended that historical research proved that the ‘rasagolla’ originated in Puri. Its first avatar was ‘kheer mohana’, which later evolved into ‘pahala rasagolla’.
In response, the West Bengal government quoted 19-century history to claim the rosogolla was invented by Nabin Chandra Das, a famous sweetmeat maker, in 1868.
When asked about the order, the Biju Janata Dal legislator from Puri, Maheswar Mohanty, said the fight was far from over. “We will scrutinise the GI order. I shall hold a meeting with the ministers of Odisha government as well as with my party leaders to decide the future course of action. The door of the courts is always open,” Mohanty said.
The debate over the origin of the rosogolla is not merely about Bengali and Odia sentiments. Experts say the bragging rights may translate into good business for confectioners in the two states.
One of them, a descendent of Nabin Chandra Das, thanked the West Bengal government for its proactive role in the fight.
“The government took all related documents and information from us to authenticate the claim that Nabin Chandra Das was indeed the inventor of rosogolla,” Dhiman Das, director of KC Das Sweets, said.