A kanger also known as kangri or kangid or kangir is an earthen pot woven around with wicker filled with hot embers used by Kashmiris beneath their traditional clothing pheran to keep the chill at bay, which is also regarded as a work of art. It is normally kept inside the Pheran, the Kashmiri cloak,or inside a blanket. It is mostly used in the cold nights of Chillai Kalan.  It is about 6 inches in diameter and reaches a temperature of about 60°C – 70°C. It comes in different variants, small ones for children and large ones for adults.

It is generally believed that Kashmiris learned the use of the kangri from the Italians who were in the retinue of the Mughal emperors and usually visited the Valley during summer.  It is known that kangri was used in the time of the Mughal Empire. People visiting Kashmir during the winter season are surprised to find people carrying firepots in their hands or in their laps, but every Kashmiri knows how to handle the apparatus with care. It is a part of Kashmiri tradition and even in modern times it sees a huge demand, and is even used in public or private offices during winters.

Kashmiri people burn kangri on the occasion of a local festival, marking the end of winter season. Aromatic seeds believed to push away negative energies, are burnt in a kanger to mark a good beginning to a party. Beyond Kashmir, people of the erstwhile Hill states of Himachal, Uttarakhand, and some parts of Nepal also use other local variants of Kangri. The Kashmiri proverb, “what Laila was on Majnun’s bosom (Legendary Lovers), so is the Kanger to a Kashmiri”, sums up the relationship between a Kashmiri and the Kanger and its cultural importance, which is also shown by this verse:

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.)

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