Dear Jaipur Lit Fest, doesn’t Odisha have a say in your session on ‘Rosogolla Wars’?

Bhubaneswar: After endless debates and discussions on the origin of Rasagola and the subsequent grant of GI tag for Banglar Rasogolla, it seems the hullabaloo surrounding this sweetmeat is yet to die down.

There have been umpteen attempts to douse the situation as Odias are yet to claim their position as the rightful place of this dessert’s origin and Bengalis are triumphant with the distinction granted to their sweet. What comes as a surprise is, the prestigious Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) has decided to select a panel devoid of Odias for a symposium on this much-debated issue.

Known as the ‘greatest literary festival on the earth’, it is a melting pot of writers, thinkers, poets, novelists, historians, cultural icons, journalists, litterateurs, international speakers, publishers and literature connoisseurs from all over the world. The thoughtfully-curated sessions conducted simultaneously in multiple venues see packed houses.

This year, the 58th session at this Lit Fest is a symposium titled ‘The Rosogolla Wars’. The panelists are Padma Bhushan Swapan Dasgupta (senior journalist and Member of Parliament), Ajoy Bose (senior political columnist and television commentator), Arunava Sinha (noted Indian translator of Bengali literature), Sanjoy K. Roy (co-founder and managing director of the company called Teamwork Arts, that hosts JLF) and Sudeep Chakravarti (author, journalist and futurist), to be moderated by Sampurna Chattarji (eminent poet, novelist and translator). Needless to say the above individuals are stalwarts in their respective arenas and their surnames suggest that all of them are Bengalis!

Moreover, the session’s title suggests that the subject of discussion will have something to do with the battle between the two states over the syrupy delight. How can there be deliberation on a topic when there is zero representation from one side and all participants are rooting for the same side? Does it mean that the verdict on the Rasagola war is out? Or JLF does not see anyone worthy from Odisha to make a case on behalf of four crore Odias?

A social media handle recently found this anomaly and wrote an open letter to the organisers of JLF, “’sensitizing’ them about the dangerous precedent they are setting by scheduling a debate about a controversial topic, inviting just one side for the discussion (sic)”.

Picture courtesy: Twitter/@OdiaCulture

Sudeep Chakravarti responded to the allegation by saying that there will be no mockery of Odisha or Odias and it would be a discussion on Bengalis. What baffles us is, how can there be any mention of Rasagola and no reference to Odisha?

Similarly, Sanjoy Roy echoed thoughts of Sudeep and wrote that they have no intention of hurting the sentiment of any community or group and assured that this open letter would be read out at the session. As the organiser of the decade-old event, we would like to ask Sanjoy, if this is a discussion that has nothing to do with the sweet’s origin or the query to who’s is it anyway, why name the session ‘The Rosogolla Wars’, in the first place?

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