Finding Solace in the Fire ( A Journey towards Gilgit Baltistan)
A few years ago, I woke up at freezing midnight. But I got amazed when I felt warmth in my surroundings. How could it be possible in the minus degree Celsius temperature of Baltistan? So, I decided to figure out the reason. When I looked from my second-floor cottage window, then a beautiful and mesmerizing view was waiting for me. Some people hold wooden torches in their hands in their traditional dresses, moving in zig-zag movement on untilled mountains. From my cottage, these balls of the fire looked like stars who had recently got freedom from their galaxy, and they were on earth to enjoy their emancipation in beautiful dancing moments. This scene also reminds me of old conveyors that migrate from one place to another during long nights. So, I thought maybe I have reached into the past through any time machine. But suddenly, a knock on the door broke the chains of my thought.
I was amazed because I had not witnessed a beautiful view like before.
So, I decided to figure out the reason behind this festival. I asked a local person. He told me that they celebrate this festival at the end of their Winter’s longest night and the start of spring. They name it the Mayfung festival, and it is their way of welcoming the spring. He further added that they celebrate this event because it brings happiness to their life. There are various myths associated with this event. According to a lock tale, they celebrate this event at the death of a cannibal king. According to another legend, this event would bring prosperity to their life and avoid misfortunes. They think all evil spirits would die and burn in this fire.
I observed this event closely, and I visited this whole valley. People were making fire torches everywhere. Especially young ones were so passionate about this event that they made a special wood torch. They tied wood pieces with long sticks and started waving these fire torches in the air. They were performing traditional dance with their torches. When I visited this valley, I saw some females were illuminating candles on their rooftops — the reflection of candles prominent in their eyes. The reflection of the fire in their charismatic black eyes reminded me of the sun that was about to rise in a dark and bleak valley after a long sleep. They were preparing delicious dishes with affection. Now they knew the warmth of mother nature would spread its wings, and it would provide shadow to them from this harsh weather.
My heart was pounding because I first felt the fire’s warmth differently. I did not think about the heat and light of a fire in this aspect. Fire brings the message of new life, fervour, zeal to this freeze and cold valley.
Fire gives them the message that now it is time to celebrate the sun’s warmth has arrived. Now the cold deserted land will turn into a lush and ethereal beauty. The time of blooming buds has arrived. Good fortune will knock on your doors. Come out and welcome this new arrival of spring with open hearts. I will bring all the coldness and lifelessness with me. This angelic valley will shed snow from its top, and spring will take this valley into its comfy arms. It is time to enjoy the sweet nectar of apricots. The warmth of spring would melt the snow from those barren hearts too. These deserted hearts will love again.
On this night, I lit numerous candles in my cottage. The fire and its light were giving me solace and ataraxis. The candle was flickering, and it was giving me strange affiliation. This time was the most precious time of my life. Its glimpse is still fresh in my memory. I do not want to lose this sweet memory. Because, the first time, I found my solace in the fire.