The Muslim workers of Udaipur have excelled in several fields and one of them is making of silver and gold Varak.
Varak has several uses ranging from decorating sweets to coating, Mullama Chadana, of Kalash as of temples, mosques and gurudwaras, from coating utensils to decorating stone, paper etc. with white and yellow colours and from adding to Paan to medicinal purposes.
Realizing the role of gold and silver in treating diseases, the famous Hakeem Lukman discovered the process of making Varak. The property of gold is hot and that of silver is cold. At that time, it was called Hamdard ka Pushta. After the founding of Udaipur city, those Muslims who came here from Delhi had among them some Varaksajs, makers of Varak. Thus started the production of these items in the town.
The implements used in making them are of special type. They include hammers of different weights and shapes and a solid stone slab fixed in the ground. The main implement is Thokadi made of a very special kind of leather that does not tear off or flatten inspite of being beaten constantly with the hammer. It is soft and polished in such a way that it is not affected even by intense heat. In each Thokadi are placed three hundred sheets of paper that is of special kind and not affected by heat and beating with the hammer. Between each pair of paper, sheets of silver or gold are placed. In one Thokadi, 150 Varaks of 8 by 8 inch size are made at one time. This process takes six to ten hours. A hardworking worker can make three hundred Varaks in a day.
For coating a copper Kalash, it is first of all polished and then a solution of lemon and mercury is applied on it. Then gold Varak is pasted on it carefully. After that it is heated so that the solution evaporates and the Varak sticks to the Kalash firmly.
Efforts were made to make Varak with the help of machines but the product lacked the quality of that of hand made kind.
Due to the rising cost of the two precious metals and the extremely low income of the workers inspite of hard labor and the long process, not many workers are engaged in the industry except a few living in the vicinity of Moti Choutta.
By providing incentives, a new lease of life can be given to these excellent workers.
(Source : Rajendra Shekhar Vyas)