Rasagola has at least a 500 years old history in Orissa

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I thank my dear friend Asit Mohanty for his focus on Rasagola. He has very convincingly shown that if it was innovated anywhere in the world, then it was only in Orissa.

I would like to supplement him only in matter of its age. In trying to do so, I am bound to recall my childhood days.

My Piusi (sister of my father) was married to Radhasyam Pattanayak of Gopalpur, Banki. My uncle (father’s younger brother) was also married in Banki Garh. Come a vacation, either my cousins from these two places in Banki come to my house in Tigiria or I go there. It was great fun.

There was no direct road connection between Tigiria and Banki. We were using road to Cuttack, then a boat to cross the river Mahanadi and from the Ghat at the other side, again a bus to Charchika, the nerve center of Banki between both the above villages. It was a long root.

The other road connection was to Sunthipal fron Tigiria Nizgarh via Bindhanima on bullock cart, from where to Banki in a boat over Mahanadi.

But for my family it was more convenient to go walking from my house on ridges of agricultural plots. The distance this way from my ancestral home to Mahanadi river bed was maximum four kilometers via Sunthipal.

Once my father’s Khamari (regular paid worker in charge of cultivation and storage of crops) Subala Majhi of old Tigiria accompanied me under orders of my father. He was just like a family member and we the children were respecting him as an elder brother. I was calling him ‘Subala nana’. He was an excellent story teller and it was always a pleasure if his company was available.

On the ridges, only one person behind another could move. Naturally, I was following him. But he missed the proper ridge and walked on another ridge that took us to Bandala of Banki on our home side bank of Mahanadi, instead of Sunthipal. Banki is situated on both the sides of Mahanadi; the side adjacent to Tigiria is spread from Bandala to Ansupa spangled with a few villages of Tigiria and Athgarh.

Reaching Bandala on the ridge was a bit longer than the root to Sunthipal. The sand bed of the river was also wider than the bed at Sunthipal. We were feeling hungry. Subal nana found a thatched ‘Gudia Dokan’ (snack stall) on the Mahanadi embankment where we were to enter the sand bed to walk up to the river stream. The stall owner said that all the snacks he had prepared were finished except a few Rasagolas. I found them of pretty big size in a big Glass Jar.

Smaller size Rasagola was priced Rs.2/- per piece in my village. I imagined that such big size Rasagola must be of Rs.5/- per piece. My father had given me only Rs.10/- for “Bhoga” at Charchika. We were not to pay any money to the ferrymen, as they were my family’s ‘Berttan Bhogi’ persons, to whom a plot of our ancestral land near the river had been given for free ferrying of our family members as and when we were to go to and fro Banki.

But, despite being hungry, I could not dare to take even one of the sweet balls, lest the money would be more than that I can afford. I was sure, howsoever big the cost, at least two Rasagolas could be paid for with the money I was possessing. So, I asked the snack shop owner to give Subala nana two pieces of Rasagola. Subala nana querried, should I not take any! I refused, pretending that I do not like the Rasagolas.

The Rasagolas were really of such big size that Subala Nana could not take more than the two pieces given to him.
As I gave the shop owner the ten-rupees note, he said, “Ede notute! Reja Kai’n? (A note of such big amount! Wherefrom shall I get the changes?)

And, thus saying, he went running to his village to procure the changes. He returned me a sum of Rs. 8/- and when in blatant surprise, I wanted to know the price he was charging per piece, he said, it was only Re.1/- per piece.

It would have been embarrassing for me to ask for Rasogola, as I had already said that I do not like them. I repented for my foolishness.

However, I asked him, when Rasagola of very small size was charged Rs.2/- in Tigiria Nizgarh, how was it that he was selling bigger size Rasgolas at Re.1/- only?

He replied, “babu, adhika kahinki nebi? Jhiati ta baha hoi shahughare bhalare achhi. Pua chakiri kari bohu saha bahare. Ame Budha Budhi Dijana; Gaee jeuin kshira deuchhanti, sethiru khai pi balakaku chhena chhidei sata purusara beparati chaleichhun. Mo pare beparati budi jiba” (My daughter has married and is staying happily with her in-laws. Son is in an outside employment and my daughter-in-law and grandchildren are staying with him. My wife is making the cheese from the milk the family cows give and thus I am maintaining the seven generation old family trade. After me, the tradition would end).

I was curious to know how it could be a trade of seven generations old. He said, “Thare Saa’nte e pariki bije hoithilabele Rasagola khai khusi hoi Mo jejebapanka budhajepanku sata mana jami deithile O niskara bhogibaku kahithile. Sei dinathu eha chalichhi”. (Once while inspecting this side of his State – the King of Banki had entertained himself with Rasagola prepared by the great-grandfather of my grandfather and being happy over the treat, had gifted him seven Mana of land free of tax. Since then we are using the land.) It may be mentioned that in our area, a Mana is around one and half acres of land.

When I was a student of nine at that time, the shop owner was, I believe, in his 70s. He was in possession of the land gifted by the king of Banki for Rasagola for six generations by then. If one generation is of minimum sixty years, then that history covers at least 360 years and as the man whom the King of Banki had gifted the land, was in inherited trade of the family, Rasagola was surely a 400 years old family trade of the Bandala family.

Keeping this story here, I would like to recall my accidental visit to the family of K.C.Das of Kolkata. My esteemed friend Barendra Krushna Dhal has profound friendship with this family. On reaching Utkal Bhavan, Kolkata on a day, I found Barendra babu was lodged there for two days. A few hours later, journalist Pradyot Bhatt arrived and announced that he had come to invite us to a dinner in the residence of Mr. Das. I was reluctant to accept the invitation, because I did not know that family. But finally I had to agree, as, after Pradyot babu left, I got the request from the son of Mr. Das through my room telephone. Obviously, Barendra babu must have asked the host to invite me and in order not to embarass Barendra babu, I went there with him. The evening was tremendous. I had gathered from there that by then their family trade of Rasagola had reached the third generation.

The Bandala experience continued to strike me. If the Bandala family was producing Rasagola for seven generations, how then the Das family of Kolkata could be the inventor of Rasagola, being in the trade for three generations?

Once while talking about this, I attracted attention of my revered teacher Pt. Narayan Dash. He instantly recited a Sankrit Shloka that depicted how  Rasagola was being offered by Laxmi to SriJagannatha on his final entry to SriMandira after the car festival.

The tradition is in vogue before arrival of Sri Chaitanya at Puri, he had said.

I believe that he was not wrong.

It is Gajapati Purusottama Dev during whose time most aggressive steps were taken to change Jagannatha from Buddha to Vishnu and all sorts of legends were created to bring in the Laxmi concept.

In original Srikshetra tradition Bimala, the Shakti of Bauddha Tantra was the Kshetradhiswari of the citadel of Jagannatha (Bimala Sa MahaDevi, Jagannathastu Bhairabah), Laxmi was never.

In order to replace Bimala with Laxmi, so that people may take Jagannatha as Vishnu – he being Laxmi’s consort – this legend of Laxmi trying to please Jagannatha with Rasagola was contrived. And, Purusottama Dev must have encouraged that.

Chaitanya had come to Orissa after the end of the reign of Purusottama Dev, particularly after Prataparudra Dev was well settled. He had spent the last 18 years of his life from 1515 to 1533 A.D. in Puri. This shows that, Rasagola is in use in Puri before 1515 A.D.  and thus, for at least 500 years.

Thus, Orissa’s claim as the place of origin of Rasagola is certainly justified.

Saswat Pattanayak on Killing by the State

Saswat Pattanayak is a known voice of humanitarianism. He is known as a campaigner against capital punishment, against State becoming a killer. His views on final punishment given to Yakub Memon this morning in social media call for serious cogitation. I have picked up his words for esteemed visitors to these pages.

(Subhas Chandra Pattanayak)

There is no need for blame games, now that Yakub Memon has been killed by the Indian State. And there is no irony in Kalam’s funeral being held on the same day either. Nations that worship missile men don’t get to preach nonviolence and forgiveness at the same time. Just like Mukherjee, Kalam too had rejected mercy pleas. Just like Kalam, K. R. Narayanan also had rejected mercy pleas. And before him, S.D. Sharma. In fact, the only one in recent times who did not supervise execution was the only woman president: Pratibha Patil, although that could have been purely incidental. All presidents across religions and political affiliations have bossed over death penalty executions in India.

Institutional killing of people by India is so random and considered so casually, that the country does not even have any official figures available towards that to critique. However, from limited available data, it appears that well over 2,100 prisoners have been executed in India since its independence. And of course, countless more are “encountered” for being “Maoists”, “terrorists” and being just whatever the heck. “Encounter cops” are rejoiced protagonists of Bollywood movies. Private militia continuing caste-based murders are paramilitary heroes. Death penalty is in vogue – inside courtrooms, on the streets and in newsroom debates.

It is sick, it is tragic, it is macho, it is justice, it is time for ladoo. Call it what we may, India is the citadel of death penalty. The discourse needs to go beyond blaming the president alone. Presidents are merely symbolic representatives of our collective thirst for blood. Expecting them to get merciful or failing which, be termed monstrous is an exercise in moral high ground marathon. Well before mercy petitions arrive, it is our holy cow enlightened judiciary that already seals the deal by not resisting the urge to issue death sentences, dozens after dozens. It is our wise judges who have taken it upto themselves to decide that death penalties are necessary. It is our Constitution that provides for such an unchallenged option. It is our cops and military who receive medals for being killers. It is our children who aspire to join these violent clubs of future in name of showing off patriotism.

As of now, 140 countries in the world have outlawed death penalty. India the land of nonviolence and peace howsoever fabled, continues to adamantly oppose every UN resolution that seeks to ban death penalty. And it is therefore all of us who still take pride in such a heartless immoral construct of a country. It is not Mukherjee alone. And it is our humanity that is hanged in installments. It is not an Afzal Guru, or a Yakub Memon alone.

Implementation of Orissa Official Language Act 1954: Is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Backing Out?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Had the Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik been sincere, the promised first meeting of the modality committee on implementation of Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 should have been held today.

On July 08, poet Gajanan Mishra was on the eighth day of his fast onto death for immediate implementation of Orissa Official Language Act 1954. It was his second fast on the same demand. And the entire State was waking up in his support.

Government was in panic, specifically as SriJagannatha’s Car Festival arrangements were in disarray. The situation was so alarming that four Ministers of State with independent charges – Law Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo, Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Food Minister Sanjaya Kumar Das Burma and Energy Minister Pranab Prakash Das – were put at Puri to supervise the works to ensure timely completion. Sri Mishra’s fast was making the situation more upsetting.

Under such circumstances, a government emissary arrived on the place where Sri Mishra was continuing his fast onto death and invited the Oriya Bhasa Sangram Samiti that was supporting Sri Mishra to a conference with a group of ministers awaiting in the Secretariat to explore what best the government can do to implement the Act of 1954 so that the hunger strike could come to a conclusion. The emissary had come with the official invitation under signature of Law Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo.

As the Samiti’s representatives arrived in the Secretariat the team of the four above named Ministers claiming to have been recalled from Puri by the Chief Minister for the purpose, assured the Samiti that the Government is fully prepared to implement the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 with immediate effect. But modalities of implementation such as in law courts need a little more time to be fine-tuned and finalized. The Government wanted time till completion of the Car Festival. Therefore, it was decided that, subject to acceptance by Sri Mishra, the next meeting of cabinet representatives with Samiti representatives would be held on the day following Bahuda to finalize how in every office including the courts and hospitals Oriya shall be the language sans any deviation.

The joint decision of July 08 was placed by the team of ministers before the Chief Minister and after he put his stamp of approval on it, Law Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo came to Sri Mishra’s camp of fasting and requested him on behalf of the CM to brake his fast to help the government have a congenial climate for smooth management of the car festival, specifically as the CM has promised to enforce implementation of the Act of 1954 by August 15, the modalities for which will be formulated in the joint meeting on the day after Bahuda, Sri Mishra agreed.

But it is shocking that the joint meeting is not yet convened. Sri Misra, resident of Titilagarh, Bolangir had arrived at Bhubaneswar yesterday. As the government has failed to convene the modality committee, he has gone back.

Is the Chief Minister backing out?

NO OBITUARY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
I will not write any obituary on former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who passed away this evening at around 6.30 at Shillong.

He had made India’s first citizenship the most perfect by becoming the 11th President of this Republic from 2002 to 2007.

Bharat Ratna given wrongfully to some under political manipulation, was most rightly conferred on him.

Known as India’s missile man, in his own words, he was  a “learner”.

He, according to his last tweet, had gone to “take course on Livable Planet Earth at Indian Institute of Management”.

Kalam's last tweet
I will not write any obituary on him; because, HE IS THE ONLY MAN OF OUR TIME WHOM DEATH CANNOT MAKE DIE.

Sad News//We can’t see and hear Prof. Hrudananda Ray any more

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
There is no death, as Sanatsujata has elaborated in Mahabharata.

Prof. Hrudananda Ray shall have no death. Yet, to think that he will not be available to our eyes any more is just a shock his innumerable admirers shall find difficult to tolerate.

I stand silently in his honor.

JAGANNATHA MUSTN’T BE MADE A MEDIUM OF MISOGYNY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Chief Administrator of Jagannatha Temple Suresh Mahapatra, under whose management Navakalevar became a fiasco, has taken advantage of a High Court ruling to use SriJagannatha as a medium of misogyny.

A female devotee of SriJagannatha is found from CCTV footage to have climbed up to the floor of Nandighosha chariot on July 20. The District Collector and Police are pressed to find out the lady and subject her to prosecution.

Mahapatra has suspended a servitor namely Artatrana Pratihari for his alleged failure to obstruct the female devotee when she climbed up to the floor and has called for explanation from the Badagrahi of Nandighosha, Jagannath Swain Mahapatra as to why action should not be taken against him for the offense the lady committed by mounting the chariot. The Badagrahi has rejected the allegation as his only duty it was to see to the stability of the image on his seat in the chariot, and not guarding the entrance.

The High Court ruling, which is being used as the stick to beat the woman with, should be reviewed by a greater bench  in public interest. Puri Sankaracharya has been trying to reduce SriJagannatha to an instrument of Brahmanya Dharma. The said ruling has given him the boost. Had the state government been pro-people, it should have challenged the said ruling.

But why the stress is now on the said ruling against a woman climbing the chariot, when the state government and its officers are marked for habitual contravention of court orders?

The CCTV footage repeatedly shown in television channels makes it clear that many people were on the floor of the chariot along with the female devotee. Why only she is being singled out by the officer? On the other hand, how the TV channels got the CCTV footage, unless the officer who is privy to the same has deliberately given copies thereof to media? And, why has he given the CCTV footage to media?

Is it designed to use SriJagannatha as a medium of misogyny?
Perhaps, yes.
This must be condemned by whosoever has any respect for the cult of Jagannatha.

And, the State, though already very late, should seek review or nullification of the High Court ruling that is now being misused by the officer, whose deficiency or conspiracy destroyed the sanctity of Navakalevar, for vitiating Jagannatha system with misogyny.

The High Court of Orissa being the superintending Court of the State should be prevailed upon by the Government to ensure that no Judge of Brahmin caste hears any case concerning SriJagannatha, as the Sankaracharya and his stooges are trying to impose Brahmanya Dharma on his cult, to the total detriment of what the deity of SriMandira really stands for.

Kuhu on the occasion of Orissa’s most famous Folk Festival of Agro-Magic: Ratha Yatra

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Ratha Yatra is Orissa’s most famous folk festival of agro-magic.

I greet you friends with a picture of SriJagannatha drawn instantly by my elder granddaughter Adwiteeya Mohapatra (Kuhu), born to my daughter Suchismita.

She reads in Class III at DPS-Kalinga.

SriJagannatha by Adwiteeya Mohapatra, Class III, DPS-Kalinga