BHUBANESWAR/KOLKATA: So, the “sweet news” that made true-blue Bengalis “happy and proud” may have a saccharine-sweet aftertaste after all.When Kolkata newspapers broke the news that Bengal had been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the rosogolla, the spongy ball of cottage cheese dunked in sugar syrup, social media was abuzz that the two-year battle over where it originated from had finally gone Bengal’s way.
Sweet-toothed Bengalis were beaming from ear to ear that Odisha’s claims that the sweetmeat originated in Puri’s Jagannath Temple had finally fallen flat. “Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that #Bengal has been granted GI status for Rosogolla,” the official Twitter handle of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said. Being granted the GI tag for the rosogolla after all meant it was official that Bengali confectioner Nobin Chandra Das was the one who had created the sweetmeat in the 1860s.
But did the GI tag really go to Bengal? Sources in Odisha said Bengal was granted the tag only for what is called the “Banglar Rasogolla”, the spongy variety of the sweetmeat prepared in Bengal. The less spongy Pahala Rosogolla that Odisha is famous for still belongs to the Odias, they said.
A senior GI Registry official confirmed to the Express that the tag had been granted for “Banglar Rasogolla,” which applies only to the sweetmeat prepared in Bengal. More importantly, Odisha has not applied for any GI tag for its Rosogollas, the official said.The source added that if Odisha applied for a GI tag for its Rosagolla and produced sufficient evidence for creating it, it could get one too.
Clearly on the backfoot, the State Government today declared it is in the process of filing an application for GI tag for “Odishara Rasagola” which it said dates back to more than 800 years.
Besides, the GI Registry has not taken a call on the origin of the rosogolla. “This GI tag is not for the generic term rosogolla or its origin. It has been given based on the geographic region where it is prepared and the evidence they produced. This says nothing about rosogolla’s origin because so many States have their version of rosogolla. There is even a Bikaner rosogolla,” the GI Registry official said.
“The Directorate of Food Processing Industries, West Bengal, had applied for the GI tag for Banglar Rosogolla in 2015. We examined all the evidence and conferred the GI tag for Banglar Rosogolla. So far, we have not received any application from Odisha,” the source said. Noted Odia writer Asit Mohanty said, “The GI tag for Banglar Rasogolla is being projected as if the sweet originated in West Bengal. It is an attempt to confuse people.”
In Kolkata, however, sweetmakers were sanguine that the GI tag would lead to a surge in rosogolla sales.
“From now on, we will be able to market rosogolla as ‘Bengal’s rosogulla’, which would definitely give a boost to both small and big sweetmeat manufacturers of the State. The economic benefits of the GI tag of rosogulla to West Bengal will be enjoyed by the entire community,” said Rabin Pal, general secretary of the West Bengal Sweetmeat Manufacturers Association. Dhiman Das, the owner of KC Das Private Limited, said the GI tag would be enormously beneficial in the export market on the lines of Darjeeling tea. “We will be able to brand and market rosogolla as ‘Banglar rosogolla’ or ‘Bengal’s rosogulla’ after securing permission from the West Bengal Government. The victory has just come for our beloved sweet. We would take its marketing in a big way in the future,” he said.