BY: SUN STAFF
Jun 21, CANADA (SUN) The ancient process for making varakh, which is contaminated by meat, has finally been reinvented.
In November 2005, the Sun ran a news article that came as a great surprise to many: who knew that the "Varakh on Indian Sweets is Contaminated"? We had frequently been served "prasadam" milk sweets at Sunday Feasts in ISKCON temples and in the homes of devotees, so it came as quite a shock to learn that the beautiful silver foils traditionally found on Indian sweets were actually contaminated with ox and cow remnants.
Because the glitter adds such an opulent note to sweets and fruits, varakh foils are very popular for making foodstuffs to be offered to the Deities more attractive. These silver-topped sweets are found in temples around the world, and in thousands of Indian "vegetarian" sweet shops. Varakh is also used in flavored syrups such kesar (saffron) syrup and in some Ayurvedic preparations.
While those partaking of varakh have undoubtedly marveled at the ingenuity of turning precious metal silver into such paper-thin edible foil, how many have actually investigated the manufacturing process? In fact, if devotees know the source and method of making varakh, they would never eat those silver-coated treats again.
Fortunately, a Jaipur entrepreneur, Mr. Surendra Karnavat, set out to solve this dilemma. Investing 15 years in personal research and experimentation, he has now refined a new manufacturing process for creating silver varakh that is pure and uncontaminated. The information provided on his website, which is summarized here, explains the nasty, demoniac process traditionally used to make varakh, and the revolutionary new method he has created to produce pure vegetarian varakh.
Varakh is not derived from animal sources. It begins with precious metals - relatively pure silver. Unfortunately, the traditional method of pounding the metals down into paper-thin foil involves pounding the materials on top of sheets of cow and ox intestines and calf leathers.
According to an article in Business India magazine, each year an astounding 275 tons of silver are beaten into varakh foil for sweets and Ayurvedic medicines like Chyavanprash. That's a whopping 2,75,000 kilograms! At current market rates, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of Rs. 165 Crore, or $40 million U.S. Dollars.
According to JainWorld.com, in order to process this wealth of silver, an even greater precious asset is expended - each year the varakh industry uses the intestines of 516,000 cows and the leather of 17,200 calves each year. Ox-gut are leathers used in the manufacturing process are obtained from slaughterhouses, and who knows where. In the filthy back alleys of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and in other cities of India, the small thin strips of silver are hammered into glitter foil by being placed between layers of the ox-gut.
The disgusting reality behind the brilliance of varakh was discovered by science-minded individuals who tested the stuff, and discovered that the foils were contaminated by traces of cow and ox blood, mucous and excrement.
A few years ago, an animal rights group calling itself 'Beauty Without Cruelty' began to lobby Indian Airlines, who was pressured into preventing their caterers from providing varakh decorated sweets on board their flights. Today, many ask for sweets without varakh, having realized the cruelty involved in its preparation.
The Solution - Vegetarian Varakh from Kanishka
The new manufacturing process invented by Surendra Karnavat, and taken to market by his company, Kanishka Platinum Gold & Silver Products of Jaipur, Rajasthan, now makes 100% pure vegetarian varakh, in silver and gold, available to the public. Every aspect of animal contamination has been eliminated from the manufacturing process, and even human contamination has been decreased.
An place of the animal medium, Kanishka utilizes a special coated paper indigenously manufactured by the company. Even the machines used in the manufacturing process are built by Kanishka, who controls the process from start to finish.
Those wishing to purchase Kanishka vegetarian varakh can do so by contacting their distributor, Mr. Amrish Shah of Bhupendra & Company, at 09-428503902 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information is available at Kskvarakh.com.