West Bengal on Tuesday, November 14, may just have won the bragging rights for the claim of the origin of the Rasgulla, after the iconic sweetmeat that has come to be associated so closely with the state and its inhabitants was awarded the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the official patent registrars.
The development comes mere days after a minister from the state had apparently said it would drag Odisha — the other state who lays claim to what it calls Rasagola — to court in order to get recognised as the birthplace of this delicious food item.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee confirmed this "sweet news" following Tuesday's update.
"Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that #Bengal has been granted GI ( Geographical Indication) status for Rosogolla [sic]," she wrote on Twitter.
A Hindustan Times report quoted Sanjay Bhattacharya, deputy controller of patents and designs in Kolkata, as saying: "It has been settled under the GI Act that authenticates a product relating to either a geographical location or community or society."
Not end of debate?
However, this development may not be the end of the debate on which state the Rasgulla originated in. A GI tag means that Rasgulla from only a specific place has been recognised, and Odisha may argue that this has no bearing on history of the Rasgola — formerly Kheermohan — that has apparently been served up as a divine offering for centuries.
Chef Bibhuti Bhushan Panigrahi — an Odia by birth — had explained to International Business Times, India, that the sweetmeat was called Kheermohan when it was presented as an offering at the Jagannath Temple in Puri for centuries.
"Odisha and its coastal towns have forever been attractions for tourists from Bengal. This was the case even in the days of British rule, when present-day Odisha was part of the Bengal Presidency," he explained. Odias claim that Bengal got its Rasagolla through this route.
However, Bengalis will cry themselves hoarse proclaiming that Nobin Chandra Das was the "inventor" of the famed Rasagolla, and the shop he started bears testimony to this in its signage!
It is this kind of Rasagolla that has received the GI tag. This means Odisha may continue to lay historical claim to its own form of Rasagola or Kheermohan.