The festival of Diwali is considered incomplete without sweets. There are many popular sweets brands in India. Among them the name of Bikanervala is very special. Bharatiyas, especially North Indians, are familiar with the name of Bikanervala. Bikanervala occupies a special place in the heart of the common people with its wide range of namkeen, sweets, chaat and variety of dishes. It was established in Bikaner in the year when Bharat attained Independence from the British. Hence it got the name of Bikanervala.
The company got a fillip when 85-year-old Lala Kedarnath Agrawal came to Delhi 55 years ago from Bikaner. He fought hard to establish his roots in Delhi. Lalaji started selling Bhujia and Rasgullas by hanging buckets in his hands and established the roots of the business. In this struggle of Kedarnathji, his children also supported a lot.
Decades later, when machines were introduced by businessmen and franchise stores started opening up their branches across Delhi, then Bikanervala’s third generation started taking its business forward through digital medium.
“There should be a curriculum for making sweets. This will enable youth to get employment in this field. Government should take steps in this direction” — Lala Kedarnath Agarwal Chairman, Bikanervala
Sharing this long and challenging journey of Bikanervala, its Chairman Lala Kedarnath Agrawal said that he still remembers the day when he came to Delhi from Bikaner with his elder brother Saheb Satyanarayan Agarwal. At that time, he used to buy salty Bhujia and Rasgulla from Bikaner and sell it on the streets of Chandni Chowk. While Kedarnathji sold Rasgullas by hanging buckets in his hands in cinema halls and other places, his elder brother used to sell Bhujia to tea vendors. In 1960, he set up a small shop in the famous Paranthe Wali Gali of Chandni Chowk. Subsequently, he expanded his business through small shops in many places in Delhi.
Lala Kedarnath Agarwal was once told by his elder brother Sahib Jugal Kishore that he had been sent from Bikaner to Delhi to sell Bhujia, where he got stuck in sweets. After which both the brothers started increasing the work of Bikaneri Bhujia. Its Namkeen became popular in Chandni Chowk. People working in all small and big shops started taking their Bhujia. Their Namkeen became so famous that rationing had to be done. At that time the brothers used to sell namkeen in paper bags. Kedarnath Agarwal further said that after Chandni Chowk, the company opened its shop at Karol Bagh. “As the work progressed, we went on opening outlets in many places across the country. Now we have about 140 outlets all over the country and abroad,” he revealed.
When Kedarnath Agarwal ji started the company, there was no time for good and attractive packaging. When his third generation started helping him in this business, he started work to overcome this deficiency. Earlier, most of the work was done manually. But slowly the era of machines started. After which better machines were imported from big cities in the country and abroad to carry forward the work of the company. This resulted in increased production efficiency and reduced manual intervention. Soon, the sweets and restaurants chain started franchising. Earlier the means of transportation were less. But now the journey of buses and trains started changing into aeroplanes. This started saving time. Then there was a big revolution in the phone line as well. The work which used to take several days to do was reduced due to better transportation and phone facilities. Earlier there were very few or no cold storage vehicles. But there was also a tremendous revolution in this. Now good frozen containers started coming in. The system of grinding spices in-house became very good. To check the quality of the manufactured goods, good and modern machines started coming into the testing labs.
The most popular sweet of Bikanerwala is Kaju katli. This company was the first to start Kaju katli in Delhi and the rest of the country. Earlier, all the companies used to make barfi from ordinary mawa
The third generation of Kedarnath Agarwal combined business with smartness. When his grandsons came to India to study from abroad, they started to pursue their family business. They took the company forward through digital technology. They studied hard to unravel which technology needed to be upgraded. They started computerising all their businesses and went digital for the convenience of customers. They started taking online orders and started home delivery in association with other companies. Large computers and monitors installed at outlets were replaced by smart systems. Attention was also paid on how to grow business with more speed. The advantage of all these activities was that in the first year itself, two or three outlets were opened in this company. Now their number has increased from ten to 12 outlets in a year.
The most popular sweet of Bikanerwala is Kaju Katli also known as Kaju Barfi. This company was the first to start Kaju Barfi in India and Delhi. Earlier all the companies used to make barfi made from ordinary mawa. This Kaju Barfi is made using the best quality cashew nuts. Bikanervala’s Kaju Barfi does not spoil for two months. Products of Bikanervala are exported to 60 countries. Kaju Barfi is the most sought sweet of Bikanervala. Apart from this, the second most popular sweet of Bikanervala is Rasgulla. It gives Rasgulla to customers at the most economical price of Rs 12. After cashew barfi, most people buy their rasgulla.
Lala Kedarnath said that his company prepares 100 types of sweets. Sweets are made from pure ghee. He believes that foreign companies are weakening our young generation both mentally and physically. People are getting sick by eating junk food. He said that people are being trained to make pizza, burger. The same is not doing any work to train people to make sweets. Therefore, many traditional popular sweets of the country have ended because there are no artisans who make them. He said that he has started another separate company named Bikano. Through Bikano and Bikanervala more than 450 packaged food products are export in the country and abroad.
Kedarnathji said that a course should now be started for making sweets. Through this, this industry will ensure that a large number of youth will also get employment. Apart from job creation, Kedarnath further said that his aim is to provide better facilities to the people through Indian traditions and modernity. At present, the annual business of Bikanerwala is Rs 2,300 crores. This company has given employment to five thousand people.