While Odisha celebrates ‘Rasagola Dibas’ on the auspicious occasion of Niladri Bije of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, the alleged lack of willingness on part of the State government for promotion and popularisation of the age-old Odia delicacy has raised many questions.
Rasagola lovers as well as traders dealing with the popular sweet questioned why the government has not shown any interest for its promotion even as two years have passed since it earned Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
According to sources, the State government had planned to develop Bhubaneswar into a Rasagola hub and set up a cluster at Pahala soon after receiving the GI tag. However, the projects have made little progress.
GI tag facilitator Anita Sabat also expressed disappointment over the issue and said the State government needs to take many steps for promotion of the identity of Rasagola.
“In January 2018, I had suggested setting up of an Intellectual Property Rights Cell, inspection committee in each district, ensuring uniform spelling of Rasagola and registration of all sweet traders in the State. However, these recommendations are yet to be implemented,” she said.
Jagannath culture researcher Asit Mohanty also echoed the same views and said no step has been taken by the government for promotion of the Odia delicacy.
“Not only Rasagola, West Bengal is eyeing to take credit for many other sweets belonging to Odisha. Nayagarh Chena Poda and Nimapara’s Chena Jhilli are a few to be named. Besides, recently there was a fight over Pakhala. However, the government is only concerned about votes,” the researcher said.
Though Rasagola received the GI tag in 2019, traders of Pahala have been celebrating July 23 as Rasagola Dibas on the occasion of Niladri Bije since 2015. According to legend, Lord Jagannath offers Rasagola to pacify an angry Goddess Laxmi to gain entry into the Srimandir on Niladri Bije, marking the culmination of Rath Jatra.
Akshaya Kumar Lenka, president of Pahala Sweets Traders Association said 1.5 acre plot had been identified for setting up of the cluster a few days back.
“The Covid pandemic has slowed down the process of setting up of the Rasagola cluster. It will be completed within one year,” he said.
Culture and Tourism Minister Jyoti Panigrahi passed the bucks to the MSME department when asked about the delay in the hub and cluster projects.
“Rasagola is the pride of Odisha and we will take steps for setting up of the hub and cluster. There may be some issues in the government process. The concerned department can give the proper answer,” the Minister said.