The mere utterance of the name “Rasgulla” creates a mouth-watering sensation in our mouths due to its soft, succulent and syrupy sweetness.
But its taste is not the only intriguing thing about this amazing sweet.
What adds to its charm is the age-old debate between Bengal and Orissa over the history of rasgulla.
Unlike other Indian sweets, this soft, pearly ball of cottage cheese dipped in thick sugar syrup has a pretty controversial history because of debate over its origin.
The two Indian states, Bengal and Orissa, are quite common in terms of their cultures and the language they speak due to their proximity. However what brings tension to this relationship is the confusion over the origin of rasgulla.
And mind you, these two states take this dilemma very seriously.
In fact, it is a matter of pride and honor for Bengal because, let’s be honest, Bengal is known for this delicacy. But, Orissa isn’t far behind in claiming it either.
So let us dive into the history of rasgulla to find out the truth behind this mystery.
The Tale Of The Origin of Rasgulla In Orissa
Whenever asked about the story behind rasgulla’s inception, Odiyas dig deep into Orissa’s treasured history and claim that the invention of rasgulla took place some 700 years ago when the city of Puri came into being. And it has got mythological backing as well.
According to Odiyan folklore, Lord Jagannath, the deity of Puri’s famous Jagannath Temple from where Rath Yatra takes place, offered this sweet known there as Kheer Mohana to Goddess Lakshmi in order to placate Her into letting Him enter Her home after the 9-days long Rath Yatra comes to an end. She was angry because He was not taking Her with Him.
From then onwards legend has it that Kheer Mohana has been offered as Prasad to Goddess Lakshmi on the last day of the Rath Yatra.
But how did this sweet spread across all of Orissa?
Well, another interesting tale suggests that one of the priests of the temples started teaching people the art of making chenna by curdling the milk as he was disturbed by the way they wasted excess milk.
This trick of utilizing milk served as a boon for a village known as Pahala, situated in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar since they always had excess milk.
Soon Pahala emerged as the hub of Odiyan rasgullas or Pahala rasgullas and as they say, the rest is history.
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Bengal’s Version Of The History Of Rasgulla
Bengal could hardly digest this story of the inception of rasgullas as narrated by Orissa. Instead, they came up with their own tale claiming that rasgulla, which is fondly known as rosho-golla there, is not 700 years old but only 150 years old.
Well, Bengals claims that rosho-gollas were created by the famous sweet-maker Nobin Chandra Das in 1868.
As narrated by his living relatives, Nobin Chandra Das had opened a sweet shop back in 1864 in Jorashanko, but soon ran out of business because he was just selling what everyone else there was: dry, sweet sandesh.
He wanted to sell something new that would be solely his own creation.
Thus began his attempts at making chenna balls and boiling them in sugar syrup but mostly they were unsuccessful. However, after prolonged effort, Das was able to master the art of making rosho-gollas which then became famous throughout the state.
Interestingly, Das’s rosho-gollas became so famous that even Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore was its die-hard fan!
Isn’t the history of this spongy sweet as rich as its sweet taste?
No wonder there is this fierce battle between the two states over its ownership!
However, now the debate remains somewhat resolved from the government’s point of view since the GI tag for Banglaar rosho-golla has been awarded to Bengal recently implying that Bengal has got the official rights to claim rasgulla as its own. All thanks to the committed fight put up by the West Bengal government against its rival Orissa.
But no matter what, there will always be an air of discomfort and a sense of friction between a Bengali and an Odiya over the history of rasgulla.
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