Harsh winter in Kashmir is always a cause of concern to the common masses in many ways. However, the priority is always given to keep themselves warm and then take on to other challenges. Amid all these efforts of common people to beat the cold, a lot of hassle bustle is seen among the merchants who deal in electric/electronic gadgets that help to insulate against the cold.
Even as everyone is not economically positioned to buy these modern heating systems, most of the population banks upon their traditional system of having a number of Kangris in their hopes to protect themselves against the severe cold, whether at home or on the move.
The Kangri is an earthen pot woven with wicker twigs designed by the professional craftsmen in every nook and corner of the valley. It has the significant place in the culture and heritage of Kashmir with its own lines of history.
Interestingly, modern gadgets have failed to replace the Kangri when it comes to negotiate cold conditions in the valley. When temperature dips to minus to freeze everything in the valley and seems modern heating systems are not enough to cope up the harsh chill then Kangri is the only hope for the people in Kashmir to keep themselves warm.
“Despite the availability of modern heating appliances we still use Kangri to warm ourselves in the harsh winters as it is the part of our culture,” says Mohd Saleem, a resident of Budgam – the central district of Kashmir.
“Most of the modern heating devices are electricity dependent, and in Kashmir power cuts are common during winter. So there is no other way to remain warm in those chilly days but to opt for Kangri,” said Rayees Ahmad Wani, a student.
He added that modern heating gadgets are available with varied features, but they cannot beat Kangri which is having seamless portability (Kangris are easy to take along while on the move to any place). It’s a common sight in Kashmir that during winters one would find Kashmiris moving around with Kangri to keep themselves warm while being out of their homes.
While taking to INS, an elderly person Abdul Samad (65) while describing Kangri a dependable companion during winters says, “When everything freezes in harsh days of chilaikalan it becomes difficult to come out of homes without any heating arrangement. Except Kangri there is not any such innovation which is portable.” Adding further he says, “Kangri is such an adorable innovation that we put under Pheran, the Kashmiri robe and move easily in severe chill where ever we wish and there is not any modern heating device to compete with the features of Kangri.”
With the onset of autumn in the valley markets are flooded with traditional vs modern heating arrangements. People from every nook and corner of the valley are seen purchasing these items .
However, kangri,an economical heating arrangement continues to remain first preference for most of the people of kashmir.. kangri involves labour and local artisanal craftsmanship. Craftsmen weave different designs of Kangris in order to attract the customers. The famous designed Chrari shareif Kangir that comes from the town of Kashmir’s revered Sufi saint Sheikh Noor Din Noorani, Chrari Sharief .While as, the most durable Kangris are made in the Wandakpora village of Pulwama district, the village where more than 80% population was once engaged in kangri weaving profession.
“Kangri weaving is our ancestral artisan trade .kangri would continue to be preferred over modern heating appliances among the kashmiri households in all times to come. More so with all such advantages of this traditional device ,the kangri will retain its popularity ,’’ says Mushtaq Ahmad (45), Kangri artisan from Wandakpora.
(The story is edited by Zia Darakshan, Associate Editor)