Hot in winters

Winters besides inducing a change in lifestyle in Kashmir, bring along an economy of its own, Syed Asma reports some hues of winter economy.

As winter chill batters the valley, people put on a lot of woolens to ward it off. However, the winters apart from forcing a change in apparel and lifestyle affect the markets also. Winters generate a different economy.

The shops which sell ice creams and milkshakes in summers trade in woolens in winters. Slippers and sandals give way to stylish boots. The garment shops which have Kameez shalwars to display change it to sweaters, long courts and blazers. Dried vegetables vie with the fresh produce and smoked fish. The cooling appliances are replaced by the heating appliances.

The most obvious change is in the apparel as people need protection from the freezing cold. However, with a rise in living standards people are opting for lighter and warmer stuff.

Mohammed Ashraf owner of garment shop, Pashan Wear says, “People today look for stylish outfits even in winters for which we had to change the fiber and the style we stitched it in.”

The shop offers designed pherans, regular pherans, designed salwar suits, woolen khandash, blazers, pants, mufflers, different shaped caps and gloves. Apart from designed pherans and blazers long sweaters also seen in the latest women wear for winters. The long sweaters are available in different cuts and patterns.

The range of blazers and designer pherans ranges in a few thousand rupees and the cost of regular pherans and sweaters is in few hundreds. Shawls and warm scarves are also a hot sell with few shops exclusively dealing in scarves and dupattas.

Yasin Khan president Kashmir traders and Manufacturers Association of Kashmir, says that winter apparel are a 700 crore rupees business in Kashmir.

Apart from the clothing, heating appliances are also in huge demand. The traditional Kangri (a small hand held charcoal fire pot) tops the list followed by hot water bottles and electrical heating appliances.

Once Kangris were the lone support system for keeping oneself warm in Kashmir but with the advancement of technology Kangris have started losing its market, says Ghulam Rasool, a septuagenarian, while buying a couple of hot water bottles.

The youngsters do not prefer to hold the fire pots in hand, he adds.

“Kangris would be a must for every person in Kashmir winters just a few years back. These would come in different styles with Chari Kangir and Bandipoir Kangri being the most sought,” says Rasool.

A Kangri would sell for anything between Rs 80 to 275.

The other traditional heating system in Kashmir are the Hammams – a room with a floor made of stone slabs and heated by burning firewood under it.

The traditional heating methods are getting replaced by the new appliances in the market. First coal bukharis (heaters) replaced firewood bukharis, then Kerosene heaters came in which couldn’t last long in the market. Then came gas heaters which ruled the market!  All the offices and government institutions have installed these heaters and serve as its biggest market.

Kerosene heaters did not please the locals for a longtime but are presently in a good demand within Indian Army establishments. “Government earlier would send a lot of coal for fuel to army deployed in the state but now Kerosene is readily available to them. We have a good demand from Army for these.

Each winter at least 4000-5000 orders are placed by them for kerosene heaters,” says Farooq Ahmed, a wholesale dealer of kerosene heaters at Maisuma, Srinagar.

New heat appliance in the market is oil (lubricants) filled radiators. Though it is economical and better than the gas heater but it is not very popular, says Mohammed Salim a salesman at Hanief Motors.

The sales of electric blankets and warm bedding also goes up drastically during winters.

Kashmir faces frequent and long power cuts during winters, so inverters and generators have become a necessity.

According to the Yasin Khan, the sales of electrical appliances in winters are 1000 crores.

The heaters which are purchased on a high scale in the market run on gas. Gas in Kashmir is consumed more in winters than in summers, he says adding, Valley consumes gas worth around Rs 240 crore in six months from October to March.

“The FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) market is around Rs 4400 crores in winter in Kashmir,” says Khan.

In addition, the sales of medicines are also up in winters as cold weather brings along higher incidence of cold, flu and chest infections. Kashmir spends 300 crores on medicines alone in winters.

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