The GI battle for Rasgulla

Two neighboring states – Odisha and West Bengal have entered into a sweet battle regarding the origin of the famous delicacy Rasgulla!

In the month of May, this year, Odisha government planned to get a GI tag for the famous and one of its kind traditional brown ‘Pahala Rasgullas’ of the state. Pahala is located on National Highway No. 5 between the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, Odisha. Pahla has nearly more than 100 shops selling these Rasgullas.

The State Ministry of micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) had asked the district industries center in Cuttack to initiate the process. Meetings were held to channelize the whole process and it was decided that after complying with the necessary surveys, approvals and procedural requirement, a GI application for the Rasgulla would be initiated within three months.

But all hell broke loose, when the state of West Bengal, claimed that Rasgulla belongs to Bengalis. Mr. Animekh Roy, great grandson of noted confectioner Nobin Chandra Das claimed, that it was invented by Nobin Chandra Das in 1868 and was popularised by the sweetmeat chain K.C. Das, launched by his son later on.

It was, claimed by the priests of Jagannath Temple, Puri, that Rasgulla originated from the temple, where it is a part of the religious rituals, and has been a part of the same since the 12th century.

It was also debated whether Rasgulla , in general, and Pahala Rasgullas in particular can claim Geographical Indication status. But, it was not clear by different news sources whether Odisha was claiming GI protection for Pahala Rasgulla and if West Bengal was claiming the origin of the  white Rasgulla (the common variety). This is because the Pahala Rasgulla, are very different from their white counterpart. Pahala Rasgullas are brown in colour, soft (not spongy) and not very sweet. They don’t have a long shelf life (apparently not more than a day) due to the thin sugar syrup used (as opposed to the thick one in the case of the white Rasgulla).

On September 18th, 2015, an application for the GI tag of Rasgullas has already been filed by state of West Bengal. Odisha government has not filed any GI application for Rasgullas. Well, only time will tell who will emerge victorious. So let’s wait and watch.

Authored by Sambhabi Patnaik.

Sources- here and here

Image Source/Attribution- here, governed by Creative Commons Image CC BY 3.0