Srinagar- Some decades back, for most Kashmiris Kangri was the only portable way for people to warm themselves. However, with the advent in technology and change in lifestyle, some city residents say they have given up the use of ‘Kangri’ and they no longer use the traditional Kashmiri firepot in their households.
Badr-u-Nissa Bhat, a resident of Srinagar’s old city area said that they have given up the use of Kangri many years back.
“My family gave up the use of Kangri when I was very young. They had apprehensions about my safety and the things around. I am not used to it” said Badr-u-Nissa, a Ph.D. scholar at Kashmir University.
However, she says it is impossible to stay warm without resorting to other advanced mechanisms to keep yourself warm in Kashmir.
“Two of our rooms have a Hamam facility and in other rooms we use radiators. I think these are efficient ways to heat up a room. But I am still fantasized by Kangris.” She said.
“Whenever I go to a relative’s place, I don’t miss a chance to get a ‘Kangri Josh’.”
Shadab Abbas, is another Old city resident who says they don’t use the traditional firepot to warm themselves.
“Kangri comes with a lot of risk and there are better ways to warm ourselves. We use a gas heater to warm up our rooms”
Although some city residents may have given up the use of traditional firepot for warming themselves, most people say it is part of Kashmiri culture and legacy.
Aamina Zainab, a homemaker said she is physically and mentally attached to ‘Kangri’ and does not see it fading away.
“Without Kangri, winter is incomplete in Kashmir, no matter how times change, Kangri will be part of Kashmir for all times to come.”
During winters, the sales of heating equipment increases significantly. However, those in the business say they had been registering good sales in the pre-pandemic times but the coronavirus pandemic has hit them hard.
Speaking on anonymity, a prominent stockist of gas heaters at Lal Chowk said their sales have dropped since the pandemic otherwise they had top notch business.
“Today’s sales are nothing compared to what we had before the pandemic” he said.
However, not everyone is unhappy with how things are going in the market.
Mikaeel Ahmad, has been dealing with ‘underfloor heating’ or ‘electric Hamam’ since last many years.
Mikaeel says at first people were reluctant and were very apprehensive about it but with time and with word of mouth their sales have increased.
“The electric Hamam runs on electricity, however, even when the electricity is switched off, it remains warm for some hours” he said.
Mikaeel says they have installed around 12,000 electric Hamam’s in the last few years in the city.
“In households where electric Hamam’s are installed, they no longer use a Kangri”
After installing underground electric heating systems across the length and breadth of the city, Mikaeel says “Kangri is part of our cultural heritage and it is not going to fade away anytime soon.”
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