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Personal Opinion

Rajat Agrawal, Director, Shree Banaras Jewels is preserving the rich heritage of Banaras

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Banaras has a rich culture of jewellery and even the groom like to wear jadau and navratan jewellery. In Banaras we are doing 100% handcrafted gulabi meenakari jewellery. Gulabi meenakari is an art of painting where first we make a base of white and then we draw it and paint it. And there is a heating process which cannot be found anywhere else in the world other than Banaras. Even in Jaisalmer the work of gulabi meenakari is present but it came after Banaras. Baras has received the GI certification for the gulabi meenakari which shows that it is an exclusive product of this region. Every state in the country has its own culture and art and I think it’s very important to preserve that to pass on to the next generation. Gulabi meenakari was a flourishing and prosperous industry till a century ago but today it is a dying art and confined to few artisans now who are struggling to keep it alive. Today’s generation like jewellery which tells a rich history and gulabi meenakari has a rich history as kings and rulers used to wear this kind of jewellery. So, I think we can also share the history with the millenials which will excite them as a majority of them may not even hear of gulabi meenakari. We started the production of Gulabi Meena and gave direct and indirect jobs to around 50 locals. In the last few years, many people have shifted from meenakari to odd jobs such as rickshaw pulling. We have created around 50 direct and indirect jobs for the locals in Banaras.

Gulabi Meenakari is a rare craft and involves lots of processes such as hand painting, engraving, jalai, etc and need at least 14-15 people to complete the work. Depending on the work and size of the jewellery, it takes 45 days to 6 months to manufacture gubani meena jewellery. One advantage of gulabi meenakari is that the designs are unique and traditional, while the craftsmanship is purely traditional which can attract a lot of interest among buyers. Like gulabi meenakari, there are different other art forms which I think as an industry, we should dig the history of our own region and find the craft which can be brought to the modern generation. India is full of historical places and heritage sites and I think the jewellery community should take inspiration from them and come up with beautiful traditional designs and glorify the beautiful craftsmanship of the country.

In our endeavour to become self-reliant, we felt that it is important to make Banaras the trading hub of the region as it will open the path of the development of the city. But in order to develop, we should become atma nirbhar or self-reliant. We want to make our city ahead of time which is known for its art and heritage. In previous times, Banaras was one of the biggest trade hubs of the country and we are trying to bring back the golden days by making it a trading hub of the country in jewellery in recent times. It was the cultural capital of the country but with time, it lost its sheen. Singapore is today one of the richest countries in the world because of its identity as a trading hub. India also holds the same status centuries ago but it has now lost its position to other countries. So, we want to increase the trading strength and source local and buy local. We try to do a maximum of our sourcing from Banaras as we only import gold and diamonds from outside. So, my commitment towards this generation and jewellery fraternity is that to get jewellery manufactured at the best and purest quality.

In February 2019, we started with our first showroom in Banaras with 916 hallmarked jewellery. Every jewellery at our store which also includes a nose pin is hallmarked. Apart from Varanasi, we also procure jewellery from Mumbai, New Delhi, Rajkot, Surat, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, etc so that we can offer a good variety to the local customers and they don’t have to go to South India or any other place to buy pure gold jewellery. We originally started dealing in hallmarked jewellery with jadau jewellery in 2012. At that time no other jeweller in the city used to deal in hallmarked jadau jewellery and jewellers started jadau jewellery hallmarked three to four years later. However, to date, we are the only jeweller in Banaras who deals in only 22K hallmarked jewellery.

 

Courtesy: Retail Jeweller India News Service

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