Bhubaneswar: Odisha is losing claim on various produces despite having its origin in state. This time, the eastern Indian state has lost Geographical Indication (GI) tag of a sweet delicacy called Khaja to neighbouring Bihar, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the State government.
Geographical Indications Registry at Chennai has granted GI tag to Silao Khaja, claiming to have originated from Silao in Bihar, on December 11 last year. The application was submitted by Silao Khaja Audyogik Swavalambi Sahakari Samiti Ltd.
The traders’ body claimed that famous archeologist JD Beglar who had visited Silao in 1872-73 had written that the delicacy dates back to King Vikramaditya.
The documentation also cited folklores which claim that the sweet got its name from Lord Buddha as he had said Kha Ja after tasting the sweet. Since then it is being called Khaja.
To make their claim firm, the applicants made a comparison with Kakinada Khaja of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Khaja.
However, Odisha-based researchers and historians argue that Khaja is as old as the Jagannath temple in Puri. As per Swatwalipi (record of rights) of the temple, the multi-layered sweetmeat is offered to the Lords during the Sandhya Dhoopa (the evening offering to the deities) at the 12th century shrine. This apart, the chappan bhog (56 types of delicacies offered to the Lords) also has Khaja among other offerings.
The above validates the origin of Khaja to be Puri (Odisha) and not Silao (Bihar).
Much to the chagrin of people of Odisha, the Culture department is unfazed by the development. Though it responded late to file its claim on Rasagola after West Bengal was granted GI tag for Banglar Rasogola, the department is yet to challenge the decision of Chennai-based Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
Interestingly, the Odisha government in 2016 had granted industry status to Khaja as over 200 units are operational in Puri where at least 1000 people are engaged in production of the crispy sweet.