Monday 29 November 2021

Rasagola- Odia And Odisha Origin

Recently, Kalinga TV, a leading news channel of Odisha, aired a special programme about Rasagola in its Kalinga Swatantra show (on 27th November 2021 and repeat on 28th and 29th November 2021).

The show's title is in Odia - "Rasagola Kahuchhi Mu Odia".

In English, it means- "Rasagola says I'm Odia."

The show is about the Rasagola origin issue following the Twitter trend #RasagolaDibasa, and also about the Odisha Rasagola Geographical Indication (GI) application and registration. Kalinga TV has documented the views of some stakeholders- historians, authors, researchers, general public, and Rasagola shop owners and sellers, who all have shared about Rasagola's antiquity and association with Odisha.

Some of the personalities, who have been interviewed, and have shared their views in the video are- Prof Pushpesh Pant, Dr. Bhaskar Mishra, Dr. Sarat Kumar Mohanty, Shri Bhakta Tripathy, Shri Santosh Sahu, Dr. Asit Mohanty, Shri Bimbadhar Behera, Shri Satyabrat Mohanty, Shri Manoj Patra, Ms. Saipriya... and yours truly.

It has been uploaded yesterday on YouTube-

When I shared some images of the show with the show timings on Facebook, and it was further shared, one of the comments received was:

"It'll be a fun discussion to listen to!"

This was my reply-
What is serious for some, for others it's "fun".
Do watch to learn more from the discussion.

Rasagola topic stirs up passion & emotion!
Rasagola's Odisha link still finds reaction!
Many are forever ready for opposition!
"Such topics are unnecessary for our nation-
Why discuss 'controversy' & cause 'division'?"
"One man's meat is another man's poison".
Truth will win though there's misinformation.
To #EndRasgullaDebate, we need more discussion.

Is Rasagola such a touch-me-NOT topic that is not supposed to be discussed?
Is this 'King of Sweets' just loved to be eaten and hated to be discussed by all?

Does not seem so.
Last month, there was a video clip about Rasagola discussion in the Zee SaReGaMaPa show that had gone viral.
It has been widely shared by media and public, and the confident words of singer, Ms. Sthitipadma Dash, are now the catch-words proudly shared by all:
"Jai Jagannath! Rasagola Aamara."

My views found publication in the Sakala newspaper dated 6 November 2021.
Rasagola Ta Odishara - Rahichhi o Rahithiba
Rasagola belongs to Odisha - Is & will continue to be.

It has been noted, that whenever Rasagola's Odia/Odisha origin is shared, then there are many naysayers.
They immediately either state that it belongs to Kolkata or Bengal, or that it is an Indian product!

The same people have had no issues when other regional specialties of other states are extolled and their history (many times fake information invented and masqueraded as truth) is shared.
That time, no one brings up the "Indian" issue or mentions those who share such posts or videos are being "divisive" or "parochial" by sharing about their unique traditional products!
I have often wondered why is such special status and attention accorded to Rasagola and to Odias and Odisha?

Having come across this- "So what? It's an Indian product" - comment multiple times in the past several years, it came as no surprise to encounter the same Indian belief regarding Rasagola immediately after Kalinga TV posted the said video on their YouTube.

Translating the above comment to English:

"No, Rasagola does not say that it is Odia; it says- I'm a food item, eating which people become happy. Because of me, everyone is happy in festivals; I enhance unity; don't divide people in the name of caste or religion- this is the work of people like you.
And now remove caste and language from food-item. Here, we want to end all this and some people are looking for new new reasons. This is our India's food-item- is it not enough to say this or caste, religion, state-wise division is necessary."

Her comment has received befitting replies from blogger Amit Kumar of Candid Opinions-

Translating all the comments posted by Candid Opinions to English-

1. Forgive me, Madam, but here when and how did we become divisive? We are just only telling what is true! Is it a crime to speak the truth? Bengalis have been telling lies over the past so many years that Rasagola is the invention of Bengal; is that correct? Should we have kept quiet?
Not only food-items, be it any product, there is a place of origin of that item, and that product also becomes a part of the cultural identity of the place. Whenever our identity is being stolen by another, how can we remain silent? We are simply claiming the truth, then where is our mistake?

"Just for a piece of land, how can I shoot arrows on my family members?"
If you have read the Mahabharata, you would know that Arjuna said this and kept his bow down by refusing to fight the war. Then, what did Shree Krishna tell him?
"You are fighting for the truth, and it is right to fight against those who are standing on the side of untruth and unrighteousness. One who is silent in front of untruth, does not counter, that person is also a sinner as she/he is supporting the untruth and unrighteous."
Otherwise, as you are saying, Shree Krishna would have also said the same-"Yes, Indraprastha is just one piece of land; even if they take it, who gets? They are your own uncle's sons, your own brothers. Let them take. When they stay happily, you will be happy."
Isn't it? Just like you say-
"Yes, Rasagola is just one food-item; if Bengalis are saying Rasagola is theirs', let them say. We will keep quiet. Everything is Indian- what is theirs and what is ours?"

2. According to Bengalis, Nodin Chandra Das is the inventor of Rasagola. Well, Nobin Chandra was born in 1845 (i.e. he was born in the 19th Century).
If you read the "Jagamohana Ramayana" or "Dandi Ramayana" that was composed in the 15th Century by the eldest member of the Pancha Sakha, Odia poet Shri Balaram Das, there in the Ayodhya Kaanda chapter, Rasagola is mentioned. Means almost 200 years before Nobin Chandra had even taken birth!

So to put the facts accurately, Rasagola existed in Odisha way before Nobin Chandra's birth! Still, the Bengalis claim that Nobin Chandra invented the sweetmeat, even when they have been presented with several proofs from our side. They also know what is the truth, but still they have been saying lies even now. If we speak the truth, we are wrong?
Their lies need to be debunked.

3. The whole year you would have slogged, attended each class and lectures, and given all correct answers during exam, but while submitting, if another classmate snatches your answer-sheet and submits it in her/his name, and if claims that answer-sheet, and if marks are allocated in her/his name, would you then say- "Let her/him take my marks; she/he is my classmate anyway!"

You cannot understand this properly as for you, Rasagola is just a sweetmeat, just a food-item. But, for those generations of sweet-makers who have been creating this for centuries in Odisha, this Rasagola is their identity; their forefathers had been producing, they too are producing.
If anyone else tries to steal their identity, should they remain quiet? After all, Indians only stole!
For you, Rasagola may just be a sweet, but for many of us, Rasagola is an emotion.

Now this is my reply to the comment that discussing about the "food-item" Rasagola is "divisive"-

You feel that- "Rasagola does not say that it is Odia."
Please note that your statement may have been true before 2015 when the word "Rasagola" was hardly associated with its birthplace Odisha or with its centuries-old Odia identity. However, things are different now. Today, Rasagola's link with Shree Jagannatha culture and with Odisha is well-established. Kindly watch the same Kalinga TV Swatantra video again to learn from experts.

Many have worked hard to bring the truth about Rasagola's Odia identity to light and thus we have been joining together to celebrate #RasagolaDibasa online on Niladri Bije of Ratha Jatra.
Not just on that single day of the year, we have been continuously sharing information to make all aware.

We have worked very hard to earn our Geographical Indication (GI) tag for "Odisha Rasagola".
We are very proud that our "Odisha Rasagola" is now a GI of Odisha, India, under the "Foodstuffs" category. There are many foodstuffs and other unique local products that are GIs.
GIs are the "Invaluable Treasures of Incredible India".
The geographical area is a part of the identity, and thus the place/region/state is specifically mentioned.
We thought the debate would end after our GI tag.

Great to see that you "want to end all" discussion.
Please share- What steps you have taken to end all discussion about Rasagola?

Our intention has been backed by action since inception! We started Rasagola Dibasa to end all debate and "controversy". To end propaganda, fake-news, and Rasagola debate, information sharing and discussion is needed.
Had people known the truth about Rasagola, we would not be debating about the Rasagola origin ever!
The Rasagola debate will end when there is no more debate, and people accept the reality that Odisha is the birthplace of the Rasagola.
Till then, we will keep on sharing about Rasagola's Odia and Odisha origin.
Do look for #Rasagola, #RasagolaDibasa, #OdishaRasagola, #OdishaGI online for more. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The well-made Kalinga Swatantra Rasagola documentary just has a thousand plus views, a few likes, and hardly a dozen comments. Had the video been of a popular star or other topics that the Odia public considers "important", it would have garnered lakhs of views by now and hundreds of likes and comments.
Small wonder, there is much misinformation regarding Rasagola e.g. Chhena was “taught” by the Portuguese! Also, people are yet to learn about Geographical Indication (GI) and their usage.

More such informative videos with credible personalities and sources, and with English and Hindi translation/subtitles can reach many and make them know the true birthplace, origin, and history of Rasagola, and many other local products.

Media's efforts in this direction are necessary and certainly praise-worthy. However, the question is- will the public accept and watch and share such content? Will such informative videos ever be viral?
The viewers have a huge role as they are the consumers of such content. Our choices reflect our personality and values. What we chose to watch will determine what we get to learn, and hence we will better-informed. That will stop unnecessary debates about certain topics!

Also, if such videos are watched and shared, it will motivate the media too to focus on creating more such content for the masses.
Also, there must be awards and recognition for creation of such informative and interesting content related to a region/state's invaluable treasures. It will inspire more such creation. And also serve as a repository and digital documentation. School and college students must be encouraged to watch, create, and submit assignments about such cultural elements.
It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to participate, document, and contribute.

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