"I love this craft simply because of the rich colors and the beauty it brings to any product – be it sculptures, jewelries or home décor items."
"Hi, I'm Rajat and I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Varanasi (also Banaras). It is a city on the bank of the holy River Ganges, and it is also known as the spiritual capital of India. Some Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, as well as the oldest city in India.
"Being brought up in this holy city has been a blessing, I would say. My strong Hindu cultural and family background has made me close to God, and it sure is a feeling of great joy. I remember as a child I would accompany my parents to visit the ghats (steps) on the bank of the Ganges every day. I still go to the ghats every single day.
"I belong to a family of traders. As you all know Varanasi is famous for the exquisite Banarasi silks, and my father has been in this field for many years, and we supply silk across India. We work with traditional patterns, but we also create our designs, which we provide to the team of weavers we work with.
"We recently ventured into a different art form known as meenakari enamel, which is also very popular in Varanasi. Enameling is practiced in many places throughout India, and each region specializes in its own style and technique variations. In Lucknow, the meenakars specialize in blue and green enameling on silver, while in Varanasi it is a dusky rose-pink or gulabi meena.
"I currently work with a team of 18 meenakars and since I have recently started this venture, I feel I have a long way to go. I love this craft simply because of the rich colors and the beauty it brings to any product – be it sculptures, jewelries or home décor items.
"The process starts with the meenakars engraving the metal sheets with intricate designs using a stylus, and then they are filled in with colors. The meena is then placed in a furnace where the colors fuse and harden to become one with the surface. Thereafter the piece is then gently rubbed with a file and cleaned with a mixture of lemon and tamarind that helps to highlight the luster of each color. Enamel colors are metal oxides mixed with a tint of finely powdered glass where the oxide content controls the shade obtained.
"I hope that through with my association with Novica I shall be able to exhibit the exquisite art of meenakari to the world, thereby promoting and preserving this rich art form from India."