Hung on the walls or tastefully displayed on raised platforms, the minute you enter Shihor market, your eyes will only see hundreds and thousands of utensils made from Kaansa (bronze). Known for copper-ware and brass-ware, this town is situated in Bhavnagar District. It has changed its name from Saraswatpur to Sinhalpur to Sinhpur to Sinhor to Shihor. But what hasn’t changed about this town is its love towards the special copper-tin alloy, popularly known as Kaansu in Gujarat.
There’s a reason why ancient Indian wisdom said that one should eat in the vessels made of Kaansa metal. Kaansa imparts many health benefits apart from purifying the food. Kaansu is also known as the healing metal and its benefits have been proven by researches too. Kaansu increases the resistance power and cures skin diseases. For generations, it was the most favourite choice of metal when it came to buying serving dishes.
Kansara (derived from kaansu) community of Shihor has been into manufacturing of this metal for 120 years now. Karthik Kansara, fourth generation of the Kansara family says that “This business was started by my great grandfather, Kansara Manilal Diyalji. And despite us being from a generation where everything is mass produced, our family still believes in making the right Kaansu.” He also told us about some age-old techniques used for manufacturing the metal with the fundamental step being collecting and storing the best quality of scarp of pure bronze. He further explained us that “It’s very important to hammer the metal when it’s hot in the furnace. If proper temperature is not maintained, the metal breaks. My grandfather, who is currently 84 years old still works for 10-12 hours a day at the manufacturing unit to make sure that there’s no impurity in the metal that we create.” He also adds that “Shihor has the perfect climatic condition for making Kaansu. And that’s the main reason why the town has many manufacturing units for the same.” They have a manufacturing unit along with a store in Shihor where one can take a tour and experience the process of how this metal is made.
It’s hard to find pure Kaansu in the market these days. A quick and easy way to check is its shine. Kaansu shines very prominently but it’s never like a mirror image. If it shines too much, check again. While it’s getting more and more difficult to find original Kaansu these days, there are families from villages of south Gujarat who still own more than 100 pieces of this metal per family. Be it for wedding or mourning, whenever a pangat (a group of people sitting in a line to eat food) sits, one is supposed to serve in the utensils made from Kaansa.
For any problem, the best thing to do is to look at the past and find a solution. Kaansa is one such solution that our ancestors have blessed us with. Let’s bring back Kaansu that is mostly forgotten from the Gujarati kitchens. It surely deserves to return to its rightful place.
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