KOLKATA – Ending a bitter fight with neighbouring Odisha, West Bengal on Tuesday won the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the iconic ‘rosogolla’, signifying that the spongy, syrupy sweet originated in its territory.
The announcement by the GI registry has apparently drawn the curtain over an intense two-and-a-half year battle between the two states over the origin of the popular ball-shaped sweet made from cottage cheese.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, now in London, called it a “sweet news”.
“Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that Bengal has been granted GI status for Rosogolla,” Banerjee tweeted.
The Odisha government has said it would continue its battle to get the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for ‘rasagola’, as it calls the iconic sweet.
State Food Processing Minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah expressed his “happiness and relief” and recalled the state had earlier secured the GI tag for ‘Joynagarer Moa’, a mouth-watering winter snack made of puffed rice and palm jaggery.
Food Processing Secretary Nandini Chakraborty was all smiles as she talked about how the state had filed a consolidated application by following the various steps for GI tag and then followed it up.
“We took statements of those who make the sweet. We have been working on this for long. At one point of time we were apprehensive that it may go out of our state,” said Chakraborty.
As the news spread, celebrities and commoners alike seemed elated.
Veteran stage and screen personality Soumitra Chatterjee said: “Historically, it feels good to know officially that rosogolla was invented in Bengal.”
“But I see nothing wrong in the battle between the two states. If people of Odisha also think and claim rosogolla as their own, that’s also good. Let them also enjoy rosogolla. I wish them all the best.”
Leading Bengali film hero Prosenjit Chatterjee said beyond Bengal’s borders, people equate the state with “mishti doi (sweet yoghurt)” and “rosogolla”.
“I won’t call this a battle, but a sweet battle over rosogolla. We are all happy that now we can say with full rights that rosogolla belongs to us.”
In North Dinajpur district’s Raiganj, a sweetmeat shop treated children to rosogolla.
The sweet recorded bumper sales all over the state.
The dispute began in 2015 when Odisha claimed that rosogolla originated in the state 600 years ago and was first served at the 12th-century Lord Jagannath temple in Puri.
The Odisha government set up three committees to look into the evidence regarding the origin of rosogolla in Odisha and its Science and Technology Minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi claimed that more than one committee had pointed to “conclusive evidence” that “rasagola” (as the sweet is spelt in that state) was first made in Pahelgram close to Bhubaneswar.
The Odisha government moved an appeal to the central government’s patent office claiming rights over rosogolla, and started a social media campaign to celebrate its origin.
The confectioners of Odisha also organised an exhibition to make people aware about the state’s claim over rosogolla.
Countering Odisha’s claim, the Bengal government applied for GI tag from the GI registry in Chennai, asserting there was “ample” documentary evidence to prove the sweet belongs to Bengal and was invented by famous sweetmeat maker Nabin Chandra Das in 1868.
The GI registry arrived at Tuesday’s decision after holding multiple hearing at its office in the city’s satellite township Salt Lake.
A descendent of Nabin Chandra Das thanked the Mamata Banerjee government for taking the lead in the fight.
“The government was very pro-active. They took all related papers and other information from us to prove the claim that Nabin Chandra had invented rossogolla (as he named it),” said Dhiman Das, director of confectioners K.C. Das. K.C. Das was the son of Nabin Chandra.