Bhubaneswar: Taking strong exception to neighbouring West Bengal's move to formally stake claim over Rasogolla as their invention, the ruling BJD members today raised the issue in the Assembly and asked the government to take steps for protection of the state's culture and heritage.
"There is an attempt to hijack the heritage of Odisha. When everybody knows that Rasogolla is being offered to Lord Jagannath since centuries, how can Bengal government claim that the sweet is their invention," senior BJD member and former minister R P Swain said raising the issue during Zero Hour.
There is recorded evidence of about 300 years that Rasogolla is being offered to Lord Jagannath, Swain said, adding, there should be no doubt over its origin in Odisha.
Quoting news reports, Swain said, "The Science and Technology department of the state government has started the process to approach its central counterpart for GI authentication of Rasogolla so that it is identified with Bengal."
"We are strongly opposed to the move as Rasogolla is certainly a sweet of Odisha," Swain said.
Swain was supported by another BJD MLA Priyadarshi Mishra who claimed that Odisha used to observe Rasogolla Day every year, a day before Lord Jagannath's Bahuda Jatra (return car festival). He said many eminent persons of the state including some newspapers' editors attended the function marking observance of Rasogolla Day.
"Lord Jagannath used to appease Goddess Laxmi by offering Rasogolla to Her on the Niladri Vije Day (the day on which the Lord enters the Shrine after completing Rath Jatra)," Mishra said.
The BJD law-maker said, "Another sweet-'Sandesh'- may have originated from Bengal, but not Rasogolla."
Meanwhile, in May this year the department of micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) has already started initiative for obtaining geographical indication (GI) for Rasogolla.
The GI of goods acts as the "claim to fame" for a state. GI identifies a product as originating from a specific place and assurance of quality with distinctiveness that is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin.
India, as a member of the World Trade Organisation, enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods Act in 1999 that came into force in 2003, an official at the MSME department said, adding that the first item from Odisha that received the GI tag was the Kotpad handloom fabric followed by Ikat and the Konark stone carving.