Sweet from Odisha that Gods love

Odisha is also known as Utkala which means, ‘Excellence in Art’. One can see art in its many forms across the landscape of the state.

Published: 19th August 2019 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2019 03:23 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Odisha is also known as Utkala which means, ‘Excellence in Art’. One can see art in its many forms across the landscape of the state. Its architecture, its paintings, its sculpture, its literature and its music show the central place the art occupies in the state’s history. The people are full of humility. A charming self effacement veils their many achievements. 

Their language has a strong kinship with Sanskrit. Even the colloquial tongue, spoken by the common person is replete with Sanskrit words. Odiya has since received the distinction of a classical language. 
The latest feather in the cap of Odisha is the Geographical Indication (GI) tag it received for the rasagolla last year.  When neighbouring West Bengal got the GI tag for its version of the same sweet, Odisha began digging its records and it discovered that the sweet is as ancient as its culture. It acquired fame with its offering to Lord Jagannath at the eponymous temple. Myth has it that he tried to win over his 
consort Lakshmi by giving her the sweet. 

The sweet has therefore been sanctified by the touch of the presiding deity. 
I first tasted rasagolla when I was a child. I instantly fell in love with the white, soft sweet. The famous K C Das outlets in Kolkata sold them in tins. The rasagolla made of no exotic ingredients, but cottage cheese and sugar syrup, was, I thought, quintessentially Bengali. I remember my family gifting tins and tins of it to visiting relatives who carried them away like trophies.

It was only after my marriage and shifting to Odisha that I came to know the sweet was wildly popular there. The shops sold delicious rasagollas, which were golden brown in colour, and were a match for the ones from Bengal. 

In Odisha, it is served in homes on festive occasions. The Pahal District between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar is dubbed the rasagolla district with more than 50 shops selling the sweet dotting its street. There would often be a long queue in front of these shops.  

The people of Odisha with whom I spoke are indeed very happy that the controversy ended on a sweet note. Controversies and GI tag apart, the sweet is equally popular in both states  and occupies an important place in their culture. 

Sudha Devi Nayak 

Email: sudhadevi_nayak@yahoo.com


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