n this technological era, we can switch to different alternatives to keep ourselves warm but still Kangri seems to outstrip all owing to its cultural and functional importance. It was first mentioned in Kalhan’s Rajatarangini. The verse speaks of the rule of King Avanti Varman between A.D 855 and 883 when Suyya, the great engineer, skillfully regulated the course of the Jhelum River thereby, saving Kashmir from devastating floods for many years. Suyya kept the water out by means of circular breakwaters which gave these villages the appearance of rounded structures called Kundas; it is said that the word Kundal is from ‘Sha Kundala’ or rings, still used in Kashmir as the designation for round earthenware bowls. But, tracing its history, 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; for in Italy there was a similar device known as a scaldino. Historical data, however, contradicts the claim that kangri. Foreigners many a times get bamboozled on witnessing Kashmiris with glaring fire pots but Kashmiris have excelled the art of handling it.It is used for multifarious purposes. Be it religious or wedding ceremonies or any other rites, it finds its place in tandem with Isband.
From the beginning of November, one can see the delectable presence of kangris stacked up for sale in every market across Kashmir. The sale lasts until early spring. In 2015, a shopkeeper in Srinagar commissioned a Kangri, described as the world’s largest; reportedly the size, over a metre long, posed technical challenges to the wicker-weavers. The Kashmiri proverb translated in english as “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. However, the prolonged use of Kangri has shown to result in the formation of erythema ab igne, a reticulate hypermelanosis with erythema, which may transform into Bowen’s disease , culminating in cancer, most commonly squamous cell carcinoma. William Elmslie first documented squamous cell carcinoma of skin among Kashmiris, and correctly ascribed it to the use of Kangri. Theodore Maxwell confirmed these findings in 1879.With time, the lesions usually ulcerate and grow exponentially. Products of combustion, wood ash, and volatile substances may play a secondary role. So, the nitty- gritty of the issue is whilst preserving our heritage we should also take our health into consideration by not exceeding its use.