Every corner of India is laced with skilled workers who portray their skills eloquently in their own unique fashion. Today, let’s speak about one that is normally taken for granted or overlooked due to its diminishing popularity.
Let’s talk about wick making.
Like every other handicraft, wick making too requires innate skills which demands patience, creativity and imagination. Combine these qualities with hand-picked materials and hours of laborious work, you have a product that burns beautifully in front of your eyes.
As you already know, wicks are an integral part of Hindu culture and tradition. They make the A, B and C of any pooja ritual in Hinduism. Be it your everyday pooja or a festive occasion, we use and consume several thousand wicks that are meant for several proceedings through a ritual. Also known as ‘deepam vathulu’ or ‘baati’, they are auspicious materials that compose a complete pooja.
Although these ‘vathulu’ look simply like beads of cotton, they are not. They are a result of continuous hours of intensive work that is delicately handmade by skilled artisans trained and qualified to do so. It is a skill that requires unique characteristics and techniques that are terribly different than making normal candle wicks. These ‘vathulu’ are made such that there is right balance of stiffness and curling. Especially when burning, you want ‘vathulu’ that curl but just enough that they don’t mushroom into a mess. You want a product that is incredibly soft but just rigid enough to hold its shape as it burns.
Generally, 100% organic cotton is used to make traditional ‘vathulu’. The cotton is braided, plaited and/or knitted to ensure that it burns slowly and consistently. You will see a lot of ‘vathulu’ in the market that are made with lower quality cotton and burn in a jiffy. At DesiAuthentic, we procure our wicks from skilled artisans who have mastered the art of wick making over several years. Not only do we do this to choose only the highest quality product but also to learn a thing or two from this age-old skill.
The process of making these wicks is just as interesting. First, they handpick only the highest-grade organic cotton and prepare it for making the strands that constitute the entire product. Cotton is dried over prolonged periods to ensure that there is absolutely no moisture. Then, they dust their hands in an element called ‘vibuthi/viboothi’. It is the sacred ash that remains after burning dried wood as mentioned in ancient Hindu Vedic rituals. They dust their hands in ‘viboothi’ in order to enhance the effectiveness of cotton. It helps in further drying the cotton enabling it to burn for a longer period much more consistently. Also, ‘vibuthi’ helps in preserving raw, organic cotton over a longer period of time. A point to note here is that you will not find ‘vibuthi’ coated wicks from lower quality ‘vathulu’. Finally, the artisans start rolling the cotton into strands that make the final product. To ease things and keep proper count of the number of strands, the artisans adapt to innovative techniques. For example, most artisans recite slokas as they are rolling the wicks. The number of verses in that sloka will help them keep track of how many they are supposed to roll, how many they already have and are about to. If an artisan was to make about one lakh ‘vathulu’ in a day, he/she would recite those verses about those many times.
Truly, we at DesiAuthentic are amazed at what goes into a product that is generally thought to be fairly simple. Sometimes there is so much one can learn from simple artisans whose skill and expertise are hardly known to the world. As connoisseurs of fine things in the world, it brings us great joy to present to you the highest quality ‘vathulu’ or wicks to add sparkle to your poojas. All our ‘vathulu’ are sourced directly from hard-working artisans illustrating their skill in otherwise modest standards.
Purchase cotton vathulu from here: https://www.desiauthentic.com/collections/spiritual-zone/products/handmade-cotton-deepam-vathulu-wicks-baati-pack-of-1000
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