Lord Jagannath, meaning the Lord of the Universe, is one of the most revered and ancient deities of Hinduism.
The legacy of the Jagannath temple in Puri has revolved and subsequently evolved, around traditions.
The Jagannath Temple and the devotion of the people towards their beloved ‘Kalia’ has had a major contribution in the evolution of the rich and varied culture of the people of Odisha.
Devotion knows no bounds and always finds a way to express itself.
For instance, the famous Patta Chitra paintings were originally inspired by Lord Jagannath. Legend has it, that people who came from distant places to worship the Lord in his temple, often wished to take away a replica of the Lord with them, for which Patta Chitra artists would instantly make a painting of the Lord and sell it to the pilgrims.
Similarly, the Gotipua dance, which is a traditional dance form of Odisha, is performed by young boys who dress as women, to praise the Lord Jagannath.
Even the Chanduas and umbrellas made by the applique artisans of Pipili began to be made at the behest of the Gajapati of Puri, to be used in the Ratha Yatra of the Lord.
As such, it should come as no surprise that the beloved Rasagola of Odisha has its mystical origins surrounding the beloved ‘Chaka Nayana’.
It is a known fact that Lord Jagannath and his siblings are treated as living deities, hence the traditions revolving around their worship.
Every year, just before the onset of the monsoon, when the heat is at its peak, Lord Jagannath and his siblings decide to take a long bath in cold water.
When they fall ill, they are confined to a sick room to recuperate, and when they have recovered, they wish for a change of scenery and decide to visit their Aunt Gundicha’s temple.
In all the excitement, the younger brother forgets to invite his wife for the trip, and as a result has to bear her ire.
While Shri Jagannath and his siblings enjoy their 7 days of vacation, Goddess Lakshmi is left behind in the Shri Mandira, nursing her wounded ego.
In anger, the wife of the Lord devises an elaborate plan to avenge the injustice. On the fifth day of the Ratha Yatra, Goddess Lakshmi visits Lord Jagannath at the Gundicha temple and serves him a ‘moha churna’, which will supposedly bring him back to their home.
However, her anger has still not subsided, and while returning, one of her servitors damages a portion of the Lord’s chariot ‘Nandighosha’.
On the twelfth day, when the deities are about to enter their home, Goddess Lakshmi serves her final blow: by not letting the Lord enter their home.
At this time, Lord Jagannath, the mighty Lord of the Universe, offers khira mohana to his angry wife as way of an apology, at which he is allowed to enter the temple.
This ritual, called the Niladri Bije, marks the end of Rath Yatra.
The khira mohana is a sweet dish made from curdled milk (chhena) and sugary syrup. The khira mohana eventually evolved into the beloved rasagola.
For the people of Odisha, that is how the rasagola was invented and no number of claims by neighbouring states can ever wish it away.
As the Niladri Bije is specifically connected with the legacy of the rasagola, Rasagola Dibasa became a trending hashtag on Twitter on the Niladri Bije of 2015, and ever since, the tithi of Niladri Bije is celebrated as Rasagola Dibasa by Odia people in order to mark the origin of this beloved sweet.
Odisha got the Geographical Indication tag for its Rasagola on 29th July 2019.