Why Mithila's Makhana Must Hold Its Place As Bihar's Cultural Pride And Pop Out Of Politics And Regional Controversies
A controversy over makahana, a local food and snack known and popular across India as the agricultural product of Bihar, is catching up with politicians in the poll-bound state.
The issue is regarding makhana's GI tag being "changed" from Makhana of Mithila, a region in the state, to the Makhana of Bihar.
The issue has developed a crackling and crisp sound of its own, just as the sound of the finest roasted makhana from Mithila in Bihar, is.
The status of makhana, as the agricultural product of Mithila, is balling up as an issue of the identity of Mithila, where 'पग-पग पोखर, माछ, मखान' mark the region's cultural identity and Maithili pride. Makhaan and makhana are an emotion and cultural dignity in Mithila.
The emotion has found space in popular entertainment. As posts on Twitter suggest, Maithili film 'Mithila Makhaan' has suddenly popped back into context with the brewing of the issue regarding the tagging and branding of the Makhana of Mithila.
The reference to "पग-पग पोखर" indicates the frequent presence of ponds. Makhana (fox nut) is derived from the aquatic plant of lotus or water lily, that grows on the surface of the pond and germinates from the leftovers from the previous season.
The harvesting, cleaning, drying and grading of the makhana derived from the pond involves intricacies and is strenuous.
Politicians and people hailing from Mithila believe that Makhna is the product, flavour and local pride of Mithila and that tagging it as makhana of Bihar would be unfair.
They are opposing the move of changing the GI tag of makhana and maintain that makhana is the agricultural product of Mithila. Some, as reports suggest, see it as a "conspiracy".
Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra has jumped into the controversy. He has said that the move of changing the GI tag is a step being taken to destroy the identity of Mithila.
He has requested chief minister Nitish Kumar to step in and "intervene" into the efforts of changing the GI tag of makhana at the Sabour Agricultural University.
He has said that there should be no efforts to change the identity of the makhana, and the identity of Mithila. He asked if the locks of Aligarh could be called locks of Uttar Pradesh, and the banana of Hajipur as the banana of Bihar.
The Aam Aadmi Party has reacted to the issue and said that changing the branding of the makhana of Mithila would be "injustice" to the people of the region.
The argument against the branding of makhana as the Makhana of Bihar by people of the region, particularly a representative from the Vidyapati Seva Sansthan, is that it would affect the growing, preservation, protection, production and development of the agricultural product of Mithila.
Mithila accounts for a huge share of growth and production of makhana.
The issue has seen reactions emanating on social media. Twitter users from the region are posting in favour of keeping the tag and branding of the makhana as Makhana of Mithila.
The issue seems important in the circles of students' politics in the region and state.
Some users have expressed their concerns on the tussle between the two brands. Many say that this should not be made to be or seen as a tussle between the state and the region.
Mithila, after all is the part and pride of Bihar and users taking this narrative ahead in a careful manner say that restoring the pride to Mithila will in fact go on to strengthen the pride of Bihar.
It is to be seen how the people of Bihar, collectively resolve the issue of cultural identity in the season of "vocal for local."
Bihar and the people of Bihar must protect Mithila's pride and avoid its transition into the zone of food for politics.
That would be the ultimate victory of an emotion, local flavour, culture and pride, and people stories against opportunism in politics. It would be in harmony with the ultimate pan India "aatmanirbharta" call.
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