Saturday, August 1, 2015

This Ball's In My Court !!

Pop. I plunked the delicate pink ball inside my mouth and waited for a few seconds for that sensation which I would love to describe as 'Delicious nothingness'. As it melted away into the recesses of my mouth, I was left with a familiar high. Hell...before you guys get ideas and think that it is the new Prozac or Provigil (both are party drugs), let me enlighten you that I am talking about my favorite 'Pahala Rasgulla'.

This is not the 'Pahala' but the 'Salepur' variety

When I read yesterday's TOI, there was this article on the front page that mentioned about a 'bitter debate' between the Odias and the Bongs regarding the GI tag for it. A bitter fight over the sweet rasagulla ? Now, guys this is taking it too far. I have already written a few articles over the Rasagulla and ideally I would have stopped reading at that point. But something egged me on.

Now there is this historian Haripada Bhowmik who elucidates that Lord Jagannath cannot be associated with chenna /Chhana based sweets as it is a blasphemy to offer sweets from spoilt milk to the Lord . And he goes on to support his theory by adding that the Rasagulla does not find a mention in the Chappan Bhog, a list of 56 items that are on Lord Jaganaath's everyday menu.

I actually did a double take after reading the entire article. People do get carried away, dont they ?? Well, it is supposed to be a special treat offered to the Lord's consort to appease her so how can it be a part of the everyday menu ??? It is equivalent a guy offering a box of 'Ferrero Rocher' or 'Godiva' chocolates to his sweetheart who has been sulking after being left out. No guy would put that on his everyday menu for sure. Sweethearts deserve something special. Or do you Bong guys woo your girlfriends with something pedestrian like the 'maccher jhol' ?

I remembered my grandmother's chenna and jaggery offerings to Goddess Lakshmi on the Manabasa Gurubar. A mix of Chenna and jaggery is the very first offering made to the Goddess. A woman from the hinterland of Odisha, she used to merely carry on a custom that was passed on to her by her MIL who in turn undoubtedly learnt the same from her own MIL. And folks from the interiors of Odisha are not too fond of chenna unlike those living in and around the coastal belt. Yes, you will not find any chenna based sweets in this part. But still they make it a part of the offering which shows that it is a part of their tradition.

Now that kind of highlights the understanding (or the very lack of it) that the Bongs have about our culture and pooja rituals. I do not have anything personal against their ilk. Actually, I love Bengali folks as some of the favorite authors happen to be Bengalis . They are an intellectual and erudite lot without a hint of a doubt. And this is merely a case where they have allowed their hearts to rule over their heads.

I would suggest doing some 'mandwali' or coming to an understanding. Let the Odia's stake their claim to the 'Pahala' and 'Salepur' rasagullas and let the Bong's have their al-dente version concocted by the Late Nobin Chandra Das. Give it a thought. Meanwhile I am heading into my kitchen for my morning cuppa. Hell, where has that maid of mine thrown the sponge ? There she goes, misplacing my stuff all the time. Somebody please hand me a couple of those K.C. Das rasagullas ................

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