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This humble wicker basket has been a symbol of Kashmiri tradition almost forever now, considering its origins are unknown. It’s a tricky device that outsiders have never been able to master. It has scared us and we truly find it admirable how the porcelain skinned natives of the valley use them so effortlessly. It essentially amounts to carrying a pot with piping hot red charcoals inside your clothes to keep yourself warm in the biting Kashmiri winters. The peak of winter is definitely not the best time to visit Kashmir.

Say Cheese

The Kangri, also known as the Kanger or the Kangri is made up of two parts – an outer wicker encasement and inside an earthern bowl shaped pot called kondul. The kondul is filled with tsini (charcoal) and embers. A medium sized kangir holds about a pound of tsini, and its fire provides warmth for over six hours. Many Kashmiris fill a kangir with toh (chaff) or lobar (dry cowdung). There is also a small ‘cake server’ like device that is used to turn the coal inside a kangri in order to increase the heat. It is usually tied to a round wicker hook on the back of the kangri.

It is normally kept close to the navel inside the ph’aran, the traditional Kashmiri robe. It restricts the use of one hand but most kashmiris are quite adept at handling the device and go about their daily duties normally. It is normally kept inside the blanket while sleeping as well. It is not very convenient to carry around if one is wearing a T-shirt or a jacket., in which case it can serve as a hand warmer too.

Kangri People’s Way to Heat up Winter

The kangri is loved for its simplicity and its portability. Once winter sets in, they are everywhere. Although its use has declined considerably over the years. For one, the wearing of ph’arans is being discouraged in private and public offices. There have been warnings about the health hazards of kangris although there is no substantial proof to support this claim.

The way they dress up

Don’t forget to pick up one up when you are shopping in Srinagar. They make for interesting show pieces in your living room and are a great souvenir to remind of the valley. They even make for interesting gifts back home. They are available in slightly larger sizes; the more expensive one with real silver accessories. There is also a mahr’ni kangri, specially made for brides. They are elaborately ornamented and not very practical, used more as a decorative piece that a new bride brings with her to her new home.

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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