Srinagar- A few decades ago, for most Kashmiris, Kangri was the only portable way for people to keep warm. However, with the advent of technology and changing lifestyles, some city dwellers say they have given up the use of “Kangri” and no longer use the traditional Kashmiri hearth in their homes.
Badr-u-Nissa Bhat, a resident of Srinagar’s old city area, said they gave up using Kangri many years ago.
“My family stopped using Kangri when I was very young. They were concerned about my safety and things around. I’m not used to it,” said Badr-u-Nissa, Ph.D. a scientist at Kashmir University.
However, he says it’s impossible to stay warm without resorting to other advanced mechanisms to keep warm in Kashmir.
“Two of our rooms have Hamam facilities and we use radiators in the other rooms. I think these are effective ways to heat up a room. But Kangris still fanatizes me.” She said.
“Whenever I go to relatives, I don’t miss the opportunity to get ‘Kangri Josh’.
Shadab Abbas is another resident of the old town who says they don’t use traditional fireplaces to keep warm.
“Kangri comes with a lot of risk and there are better ways to keep warm. We use a gas boiler to heat the rooms”
Although some townspeople may have given up using the traditional hearth for warmth, most people say it is part of Kashmiri culture and heritage.
Aamina Zainab, a housewife, said she is physically and mentally attached to ‘Kangri’ and can’t see it going away.
“Without Kangri, winter in Kashmir is incomplete, no matter how times change, Kangri will be a part of Kashmir for all times to come.
Sales of heating equipment grow significantly during the winter. However, people in the industry say that they were seeing good sales in the pre-pandemic period, but the coronavirus pandemic has hit them hard.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a prominent seller of gas heaters in Lal Chowk said their sales had fallen since the pandemic but otherwise they had a prime business.
“Today’s sales are nothing compared to what we had before the pandemic,” he said.
However, not everyone is unhappy with the way the market is going.
Mikaeel Ahmad has been dealing with “floor heating” or “electric Hammam” for many years.
Mikaeel says people were reluctant and very apprehensive at first, but over time and word of mouth, their sales have increased.
“The Electric Hamam runs on electricity, but even when the electricity is off, it remains warm for several hours,” he said.
Mikaeel says they have installed around 12,000 electric Hammams in the city over the past few years.
“In households where electric Hamams are installed, they no longer use 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’s not going away anytime soon.”
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