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Krishnanagar's Sarpuria Set To Get GI Tagging

2016-09-30 13:44




Krishnanagar, Sept. 30: It appears to be a bitter battle over a sweet affair.

The mouth watering ‘Sarpuria’ and ‘Sarbhaja’ find themselves amidst a controversy over their origin at their birthplace in Krishnanagar. The confectioners in the town have widely parted in two groups over the inventor of these two sweet delicacies, which over the years have become symbols of tradition and identity of Krishnanagar.

While a section claims that both the delicacies were invented by renowned confectioner of the town late Adhar Chandra Das, whose grandsons now run a sweetshop after his name, the other rubbish it, claiming its reference in Srichaitanya Charitamrita, biography of Mahaprabhu Chaitanyadev dated back fifteenth century.

To avoid any controversy the members of Krishnanagar Mistanna Byabosayee Welfare Samity(KMBWS), the core organization of the confectioners in Krishnanagar have appealed the centre for registration for “Geographical Indication” of the two items through state government in last month.

GI registrations are a sign that is used on products those having specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation owing to its location of origin. This is done as per the WTO agreement that enacted Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 that came into effect from 2003.

India has so far 240 registered GI items of which 7 are from West Bengal like Darjeeling Tea, Joynagarer Moa, Taant Sari of Santipur and others.

President of KMBWS Kartick Kundu said: “As we could not identify the inventor of the two items, we have preferred for GI registration so that the items are geographically symbolize our town permanently”

Nevertheless, the internal debate among the confectioners over the issue has turned so bitter that the KMBWS had to issue a notification in daily news papers on Friday urging people not to be “misled” by attempts of a section of sweet makers about their claim to be “inventor” of Sarpuria and Sarbhaja.

“Some of us are misleading people claiming that Sarpuria was invented by their forefather. They are trying to establish that the sweet items were originated at their home, whereas we have so far could not find out who invented it. They initially tried to obtain patent right of Sarbhaja and Sarpuria. But, since being failed they have published articles in food magazines, released video in internet, and done paid news to establish their claim. So we decided to alert people so that they are not misled”, said a member of KMBWS.

Most of about 100 confectioners in Krishnanagar are members of this organization, which include Goutam Das, vice president of the organization, who led the section claiming that Sarpuria and Sarbhaja were invented by his grandfather Adhar Chandra Das. Nevertheless, the organization issued the public notification creating the controversy deeper as Das expressed his ignorance about the media notification.

Sarpuria is a type of baked cake that is made through a very difficult and tedious process by mixing chhana with sugar, kheer, groundnut, small cardamom, pistachios and saffron.

On the other hand, Sarbhaja is a fried cake layered with “sar” (milk cream) that too made through a very difficult process by drying milk mixing with sugar, cardamom, water, pistachio, khoya.

While the confectioners have one thing common that they all know the art of making the two delicacies, but has bitter differences over the issue of its inventor.

Goutam Das, who runs 102 year old “Adhar Chandra Das & Sons”, said: “Both Sarpuria and Sarbhaja were invented by my grandfather late Adhar Chandra Das (1890-1964). I heard this fact from my father, which was also confirmed by many elderly persons in the town. It was my grandfather who also established first confectionery shop in Nadia in 1902 and his name become synonymous with these two items. There is no other confectioner who made these two items so popular”.

Das, however, could not produce any proof to substantiate his claim and ruled out that no attempt was made to obtain patent of sarbhaja and sarpuria.

Assistant Secretary of KMBWS Tapas Bose, who ruled out any bitterness among the members, said: “History and contemporary literature are proof of time and speak the reality. The “Srichaitanya Charitamrita”, verses on life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu penned by Sri Krishnadas Kobiraj (1496-?) indicates that Sarpuria and Sarbhaja were popular delicacies even during the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533). These two items are not just 102 years old as being claimed by some confectioners in Krishnanagar”.

Sanjit Dutta, a local historian who has written many books on Nadia, said: “In the Madhya Leela (14thchapter) of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita authored by Srikrishna Kobiraj and edited and published in 1920 by Sri Bimalaprasad Siddhanta Bharati of Sri Chaitanya Math of Mayapur, the existence of the two items were clear. The poet had written – Amritmonda Chhanar bora aar Korpurkuli/Rasamrito Sarbhaja aar Sarpupi. But, existence of Sarpupi was never found. I have talked to several confectioners in Nadia and other places in Bengal, who think that Sarpupi was actually Sarpuria”.

Sarpuria’s existence was also found in “Hasir gaan” (July 1900) penned by Krishnanagar’s own Dwijendralal Roy (1863-1913). Roy had written – “Sandesh Bonde Gaja Motichur/Raskora Sarpuria/Gorechey ki Nidhi Dayamay Bidhi/Katona Buddhi Dhoria”.

District industrial officer Soumen Dutta said: “We have received an application from confectioners’ of Krishnanagar for GI registration of Sarpuria and Sarbhaja along with relevant supporting documents. We have examined their documents and sent it to the state science and technology department for recommendation and further communication to the Chennai based GI Registry”.

Sources in district administration said that GI registration is done on the recommendation of the concerned state government. Based on the recommendation of the state government, the GI registry issues the registration. The GIR is an autonomous body works under  Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).

Nadia District magistrate Sumit Gupta said: “It is a great initiative. The need of GI registration for Sarpuria and Sarbhaja has been aptly thought by the confectioners in Krishnanagar for its unique identity”. 

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