Have you ever wondered what keeps the Kashmiris warm in extreme cold winter days? The answer is a Kanger. But what is a kanger? I will tell you.
A kanger or Kangri is an earthen pot filled with lighted charcoal, woven around with wicker filled with hot embers. The Kashmiris use it beneath their traditional clothing to keep the chill at bay. So in short a kanger is a fire pot and work of art! Isn’t it amazing?
Kanger is an old age traditional device that provides warmth to people of Kashmir in harsh winters, with temperatures as low as -80 C!
The Kahmiris call it a mobile heater as it can be carried along anywhere under the pheran. Oh and a pheran is the traditional outfit for both males and females in Kashmir. The pheran consist of two gowns, one over the other.
The kanger comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, small ones for children and larger ones for adults.
How a Kanger is made?
First the earthen pots are made just like any other pot then it is fired and artisans complete the wickerwork around them. Two arms are erected to handle the pot. And then it is painted which is optional or choice based. And the kangris are ready to go into the market.
History of Kanger
It is believed that Kashmiris learned the use of Kangris from the Italians who used to visit the Mughal courts during harsh winters. A similar device is used in Italy and Spain called “Scaldino.”
Kanger is a part of Kashmiri tradition and is even used in offices by people.
Charari Sharief town in Kashmir is famous for making a special kind of Kanger called “Charar Kanger.” Anantnag is also among the major producers.
Also there is a famous Kashmiri proverb “what Laila was on Majnu’s bosom , so is the Kanger to a Kashmiri.”
There is also a verse which describes the relationship between the Kashmiris and Kanger,
Ai kangri! ai kangri!
Kurban tu Hour wu Peri!
Chun dur bughul mi girimut
Durd az dil mi buree.
(Oh, kangri! oh, kangri!
You are the gift of Houris and Fairies;
When I take you under my arm
You drive fear from my heart.)
Kashmiris burn kangris on local festivals and also during the end of winter months to celebrate the occasion. An aromatic seed called Isbund is burnt in the Kanger at the end of winter as it is believed to drive away the negativity and bad energies.
Kangris are not only used in Kashmir but also in Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Nepal.
So Kashmir is unique not just for its valley, mountains, lakes and greenery but also for it’s amazingly unique traditional culture.