I remember vividly my maternal Grandmother calling me for a Bath “Come on, get out of your bed, Water is Boiling in Samavaar” The gushed up tone of my Grandmother had a sense of urgency and Authority leaving me with no Choice, but to follow her orders. The Samavar, which my Grandmother used was a Heavy Brass Made utensil with a capacity of around 3-5 Liters. “Samavar” is a traditional Kashmiri Utensil, believed to be introduced to Kashmiri Culture by the Iranians 8-9 centuries back. It can be bifurcated into two Hollow cylinders inner and outer cylinder. The inner cylinder which is At least 10 times smaller is enclosed in the larger outer cylinder or body. Burning coal is placed inside the smaller inner cylinder and the outer cylinder is filled with water.
Samavar is traditionally used to prepare tea especially Noon-Chai(salted kashmiri tea) and Kahwaa.Among Kashmiri Pandits who are living in a Exile, Samavar can be seen only in the Marriage functions. However Kashmiris who live in Kashmir make use of Samavars, if not that frequently , with samavar now mostly confined to rural areas.
Winter in Kashmir is really bone-chilling and classified in typical Kashmiri nick-names. The names sound horrendous as well as Humorous . With the names like “ Chillai Kalaan”, “Chilla Baccha” and “Chilla Poot” who sound more like the Three Bandits of “Sholay” , with Gabbar singh’s famous Punch line Dialogue “Aree o Sambaa,Kitne Aadmi the?.
“Chillai Kalaan” which comes around 21st December and stretches till 40 days and is considered to be the coldest and harshest among the three “chillas”. Next comes “Chilla Khurd” which is less severe than “Chillai kalan” and stretches for 20 days.At last comes “Chilla Baccha” which lasts for 10 days and finishes somewhere around first week of March.
With such exciting names given to different winter months, It is Obvious that Winters play a significant role to the psyche of every kashmiri. As a child, I always used to shy away from taking a Bath in winters, With sub-zero temperatures, which would often go down to minus six or seven. Taking a Bath was like a ritual which needed courage and was observed twice or thrice a week. Winters was like a powerful yet beautiful opponent. In reply, I was no less competition and my armory consisted of lot of woolens, ”Pheran” and powerful “ the Kangri”.
“Kangri”—the traditional fire pot used by every kashmiri in winters to beat the chill is no less than your time tested and reliable savior and Multi user friend. Not only It keeps you warm, you can also use it to roast potatoes and hard shell eggs. This write up will be incomplete without mentioning “Kangri Jung” which can only be witnessed in winters of Kashmir, when sometimes two emotionally charged jilted lovers duped by a girl for another man, met accidently in the middle of a road,And their eyes meet each other in freezing cold and instead of flexing their muscles decide to Check the accuracy of their throw and fumingly throw showers of abuses and their respective “Kangir” at each other and thereby give a vent to their anger and frustrations, but most probably repent later on ,seeing the deteriorating condition of their beloved “Kangir” which was more dependant,loving,caring ,silent, never complaining and never ever duped them…