Harsh winter proves beneficial for kanger sellers in Kashmir

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Srinagar: The sales of kanger — a traditional earthen firepot woven with wicker – have risen in Kashmir as the harsh winter conditions and increasingly costly access to electricity left people looking for an alternate source of warmth.

Kanger, which had gone out of vogue in recent years, is now making a comeback as, sellers said, the sales have registered a drastic increase.

The earthen firepot has been a traditional source of warmth during the long winters in Kashmir and is filled with embers and often used in tandem with pheran, a knee-length woolen cloak..

Farooq Ahmad Sofi, a 45-year-old shopkeeper in Srinagar’s Nawa Bazar neighbourhood who had been selling kangers for the past five years, said the sales have picked pace this winter after slump trading in past years.

“Due to constant power cuts, people can no longer remain dependent upon heaters functioning on electricity, so there has been an increase in sales,” said Sofi.

Many areas of Kashmir including the main city Srinagar face electricity outages ranging between six and 12 hours every day, which has made modern heating systems redundant.

Sofi said the prices of kanger have also gone up this year due to an increased demand. “If someone used to buy 10 kanger, they are buying around 15 this year,” he said.

The Nawa Bazar shopkeeper sells a variety of kanger including Bandpuir kanger, Islaambeid kanger and Chaar kanger. “The prices vary depending on the variety,” said Sofi.

“I think I have sold hundreds of kanger this year. This year has been better than past years,” he said.

Mohammad Yousuf Malla, a kanger-seller from north Kashmir’s Pattan area, sets up a stall every day at Srinagar’s Batamaloo market. Since November he has sold more fire pots than he did entire last year. “I sell around seventy kanger every day,” said Malla.

“Sopor kanger is the most expensive, it costs around 450 rupees,” said Malla.

Malla believes that the weather conditions this year led people to buy more of his merchandise. “The harsh winter proved beneficial for our business,” he said.

Chasweeda Waseem, a 35-year-old resident of Nawab Bazaar, purchased three kanger this season as “constant power cuts have been causing problems.”

“There are constant power cuts which have been causing a lot of problems. We have not been able to use the heater … the prices of kanger were high this year but we were forced to buy them,” she said.

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