Thursday 28 October 2021

Rasagola Aamara - End of Discussion? #EndRasgullaDebate

It is truly satisfying to see the confident answer of singer Sthitipadma Dash and the reactions. In the audition round of Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, a leading singing reality show, filmed at Mumbai, Sthitipadma encountered a sweet question on the stage the moment she introduced herself as from “Cuttack, Odisha”. Judges- singer-cum- music-composers Vishal Dadlani and Shankar Mahadevan immediately turned to the third judge, singer-cum-music-composer, Himesh Reshammiya, who asked her in Hindi- “Rasgulla Kiska Hai?”i.e. whom does Rasagola belong?

Sthitipadma confidently answered,  “I wouldn’t like to take the things further but Jay Jagannath, Rasagola Aamara (Rasagola is ours)- End of discussion.”. 

Everyone cheered.

Reshammiya had asked the same question to the previous contestants, all of whom had answered-“Bengal/Kolkata”.  Himesh Reshammiya did not look fully convinced by their answers.

 When Sthitipadma came on stage and introduced herself, he stated that he was waiting for someone from Cuttack, Odisha, so that he could ask the Rasgulla question!

When he said that Bengal people say it is theirs, Sthitipadma answered- “Rosogolla may be theirs, but Rasagola is ours.”

Sthitipadma has earned the praise of many by her confident answer. 

Just two random replies on Twitter-

ଜୟ ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ, ରସଗୋଲା ଆମର Smiling face with smiling eyes Folded hands A big shout out to @SthitipadmaDash for saying it out and loud on national TV. - Prasanta Sahu

She was very polite yet very loud and clear. Simply destroyed those bongs like a boss.. FireClapping hands sign - Loknath Palauri 

This video has been viral on social media from 25th October 2021. The news has been shared in almost every WhatsApp and Social media group in which this writer is part of. The Sakala newspaper too like most print and electronic media of the state carried this latest Rasagola story in its edition dated 26th October 2021.

Considering the viral video, answer, and reaction, the following is evident-

1.      Rasagola topic generates interest and euphoria.

2.      Some people like Himesh Reshammiya still have doubts- who does Rasagola belong to?

3.      Some Odia youth like Sthitipadma have no doubts and are sure about the right answer- Odisha.

4.      Some Odias like Sthitipadma feel- “Rosogolla belongs to Bengal, while Rasagola is of Odisha.”

5.      Odias do not want to argue or debate or say much and want to end discussion.

Odias have always been peace-loving; they never like controversy and to get into fights. Most Odias are timid, humble, and do not like to brag or show-off or to make a noise.

In contrast, this writer and some other Odias have been making a noise about the prevalent misinformation, misrepresentation and propaganda regarding Rasagola, and endeavour to #EndRasgullaDebate. In 2015, this writer planned and initiated the #RasagolaDibasa -Rasagola Day-initiative on social media. Then, even many Odias did not even know about Niladri Bije or that Rasagola is offered as bhog on the last day of the Ratha Jatra.

Since inception, this writer has been trying to figure out-

§ Why are Odias so meek and quiet and not vocal for local?

§  Why this chaliba / theek achhi / kana miliba attitude and inferiority complex?

§  Why are Odias ready to give up so easily without trying, thereby allowing others to win?

§  Why consider such Rasagola“battles”and discussions to be a “waste of time and energy”?

§  Why is derogatory treatment meted to “warriors”who are “wasting their time and energy” for Odisha?

Shouldn’t “warriors”and ambassadors and spokespersons for the state’s cause receive respect and solidarity? 

To fight “battles”, we need to be well-armed with weapons/ammunition and soldiers, and modern hi-tech technology and support. In the Rasagola case, the weapons/ammunition is- Knowledge and information about Rasagola. It is said- “knowledge is power”. The Rasagola “warriors” need to join, support, be connected and employ technology.

However, whenever wrong information is published or shared, many choose to keep quiet.

Napoleon said-“The world suffers a lot not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of the good people.”

Why is all this wrong information there in the first place? In the last century no one thought it essential to counter the neighbour’s lies. Bengal claims to have “invented” the Rosogolla in 1868.

Every Bengali child grows up with the idea and confidence that Rasagola belongs to Bengal. Their foundations were shaken when we started celebrating Rasagola Dibasa on social media. Many were/are not aware that Odisha has any connection with the Rasagola.

As per this author’s personal experience, whenever correct information regarding Rasagola is discussed and shared e.g. via a social media post or tweet, most ignore and would not even share it or retweet it on social media! Many do not wish to get into fight or discussion about Rasagola.

Bengal and others have been systematically indulging in fake news and misrepresentation, and deliberate suppression/omission of Odisha in Rasagola-related information, thereby misleading the readers and viewers.

In March this year, Zee News showed Kolkata as the birthplace of the Rasagola and Shri Nobin Chandra Das as the “inventor of Rasgulla”.

Last week, India Today published a chaat recipe using Rasagola; in the text, Rasagola is specifically mentioned as a “Bengali sweet”. These are not the only instances.

Over the years, many Chhena sweets that have actually originated from Odisha, including Rasagola and Rasabali have been showcased as “Bengali sweets”.

In fact, Chhena has been and is still being believed to have been “taught”by the Portuguese. If the “experts” are to be believed, Chhena is supposedly impure and thus Chhena is not eligible to be offered to the Gods!

While in reality, many Chhena dishes are in the Mahaprasad and food culture in Bhoga Khetra, Puri, and also in many temples of Odisha.

Thanks to our continuous advocacy and activism and battles over the years, many are now aware and voice- “Rasagola Aamara”. This has not happened overnight. It has taken collective effort and Mahaprabhu Jagannatha’s grace. Congrats to all the swabhimani Odias and those who have supported, joined in and contributed for the Rasagola cause. Thankful to Zee TV for sharing (and not editing out) Sthitipadma’s Rasagola interaction, and giving us an opportunity to view, know and share.


But, is it time to be complacent and end all discussion?

Many lies about Rasagola are still propagated today. Despite Odisha’s continuing tradition and rich culture, there are many debates whenever Rasagola topic comes up. This is despite Odisha having earned the GI Tag for Odisha Rasagola on July 29, 2019.

This writer spoke to Sthitipadma and asked her, “How did you know that Rasagola belongs to Odisha and to Shree Jagannatha?” She answered, “GI tag was in the news. Also, we celebrate Niladri Bije during Ratha Jatra each year.”

From 2015, had we not started Rasagola Dibasa celebration on Niladri Bije, and had the state Govt not set up the committees, we would not have the wealth of information and Rasagola history contributed by so many researchers. Because of Rasagola discussion, GI, and media coverage, now many know about Rasagola's age-old cultural, historical and emotional association with Odisha. Niladri Bije is the proof.

There must be more research about Rasagola and the research findings must be shared on all platforms. All must share correct information and make everyone aware about our rich Shree Jagannatha Sanskruti and Odisha’s incredible gifts to the world like the Rasagola. Only when the truth is shared, people can learn and be aware. May truth triumph.

We want the ‘controversy’ or ‘debate’ regarding origin and ownership of Rasgulla/Rasagola to end. It will be the “end of discussion” when there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind and no one will ever ask “Rasagola Kiska hai?” as everyone would be aware of the truth that Odisha is the birthplace of the Rasagola. #EndRasgullaDebate.

We all need to work and continue working as self-appointed responsible brand-ambassadors of Odisha till that day.  

Chaka Aakhi Sabu Dekhuchi

Jaya Shree Jagannatha!

Bande Utkala Janani

Vande Mataram

More Rasagola posts here.

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