I start this blog post by bowing down to the Lord of the Land , Lord Jagannatha , the very epicenter of Odia culture & tradition. This is a privilege on my part to be able to contribute my two cents towards this noble endeavor by the author who is a crusader trying to establish truths over anomalies , a champion who goes against all odds to bring forth facts about reality almost single handedly about the aspects that have direct linkage to the identity of Odia culture. This book is her second offering , the first book being about the Geographical Indications (GIs) of Odisha which was also reviewed by me and you can read it here with a detailed interview of the author.
Title of the Book: Rasagola Dibasa – Odisha Celebrates a Day For Rasagola (Rasgulla)
Author's Name: Dr. Anita Sabat
About the Author: Dr. Anita Sabat is an an independent researcher, social entrepreneur, author, and blogger based in Bhubaneswar. She is the Founder and Managing Trustee of “Odita Trust”, a registered Trust, and the Director of “Sabat Exports Pvt. Ltd.”, a handlooms startup. She is no less than a crusader who has been championing to voice her concern to protect, preserve and promote heritage, culture and environment. She is a multi dimensional personality and has many feathers to her hat. She is a power house of passion, knowledge and will inspire you to have a purpose in life. She fights her battles with an elegant smile and a humbling persona with a never say die attitude. Anita’s blog is a wonderful platform where she regularly shares her thoughts.
Narration: This book belongs to the genre of non fiction. The book is unique in its style of writing as it has many important citations and reference points . The writing is lucid and explains all terminologies clearly to the readers. The sheer hard work and the authenticity of the data is very much evident when one reads through the pages of this book .
Book Cover & Title: There could not have been a better cover for this book as the cover in short depicts the entire details in the pictoral format. The sand sculpture by the world renowned sand artist Mr. Surdarsan Pattnaik , the offering of the Rasagola in the earthen pots while the chariots house the Holy Trinity at the backdrop is just perfect to give the first impression to its readers and ignites curiosity in the minds .
Content: ” Odisha, India’s best kept secret”, that is how the official statement of the Tourism Department introduces to the world. Of course Odisha is one of the states that is yet to be truly explored by many and there are many aspects which define the core identity of Odia culture is still unknown by many. This book like the first book of the author, is a dedicated endeavor to showcase those aspects that need to see light so that misinformation and misuse of any relevant data can be curbed. The fact that Rasagola is the birth place of Odisha is often debated by many only because there has been no serious effort to establish the century old truth.
The book has many extracts like the below one from ‘The Penguin Food Guide to India’:
The book is packed with information, references & citations . There has been a very long debate about the both the neighboring states debating on the origin of this Sweet . Current status is that both the states have been awarded with the GI tags for their own versions. This is not a solution to the confusion that still persists among many regarding origin of Rasagola. One can go to any part of the world and the food connoisseurs will associate Rasagola with anything else but Odisha! However to establish the fact that the origin is deep rooted in Odia culture is the very aim of this book. The author had been crusading this cause for past several years and has faced many resistance from many who think this is a sheer wastage of time, without understanding the damage that this lack of passion is causing. India lives in diversity where each region has its own uniqueness and there must be effort to preserve the very essence of it. When that is absent, the region and the concerned ethnic group lose collectively.
Rasagola has strong linkage with Jaganatha Culture and is a part of the ritual called Niladri Bije . The practice of preparing and offering of the Rasagola to Goddess Lakshmi on the last day of the world famous Rath Yatra is continued till date. The last day of the Rath Yatra is called the Niladri Bije. On this day, the Lord along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra return to the main temple after spending 10 days in Gundicha temple. Upon His return, Maa Lakshmi prevents His entry inside and is only appeased when Lord Jagannatha offers Her a bowl of Rasagola. The divine couple has a ritualistic conversation that is called ‘Lakshmi Narayana Bachanika’. This is called Manabhanjana when the Godesses forgives Her husband, after being offered Rasagola, for leaving her alone in the temple during the very famous Car festival. It is only on this day in the whole year that Rasagola is part of the prasad offered and is distributed to the devotees.
The author, since the year 2015 has been advocating to celebrate the trending of #RasagolaDibasa online ( on twitter mostly) to create awareness and build wide spread impact. This has helped in building up mass awareness and slowly with the local news channels focusing about the issue , the seriousness of the cause has grown . After many hurdles and with collective effort the state has eventually resulted in acquiring it’s own GI tag for the indigenous variant. The book in detail gives the readers about how this whole process was carried out with all the available data accumulated in one place. Interesting to note is some literary evidences present in the book and I quote the below extract from the book
“Research shows that Rasagolas have existed in Odisha from centuries- even before the birth of the capital city of the neighbouring state. The word Rasagola is present in 15th Century Odia text while others are still falsely claiming that it was “invented in 1868” in the neighbouring state.”
Several other evidences can be found where Rasagola finds reference in texts like Dandi Ramayan composed in the 15th Century by Shri Balaram Das, Utkala Deepika (1892) by Shri Fakir Mohan Senapati, a poem named Bali Jatra composed in the year 1893 etc have been mentioned in the book as historical reference points.
The author is still in the process of collating more documents in this regard . However a more organized effort needs to be undertaken for this cause to do away any hint of misinformation and put an end to the controversy regarding the origin of the sweet , that is the very identity of Odiya culture i.e. Rasagola (“The Odia word ‘rasa’ means ‘juice’, ‘relish’, ‘flavour’ or ‘savour’. ‘Rasa’ refers to the ‘taste of something’. In Odisha, ‘rasa’ is intrinsically linked and present in so many spheres- food, literature, geographical places, conversations and more”- from the book.)
Whether one loves Rasagola or not, I will recommend this book to everyone because this is like a mirror which shows one the true picture with facts and evidences that will help the readers to understand Odisha or rather India in a better way. I personally feel that this book , just like the first book needs to have official recognition and it’s widespread reach is recommended. I personally wish all the best to the author for the exemplary cause that she has undertaken .
The book is available for free download on the
Blogchatter website: Rasagola Dibasa – Odisha Celebrates a Day For Rasagola (Rasgulla)
PS. This book is part of #BlogChatterEbook carnival in which my book, Heartfelt Symphonies was also launched and is available for free download as of now.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’
PS: All the above mentioned facts / references are collected from the book mentioned above -Rasagola Dibasa – Odisha Celebrates a Day For Rasagola (Rasgulla) and all the suggestions made are my personal take as an individual.