GILGIT: The Baltistan people celebrated the winter Mayfung festival on Monday evening with traditional zeal.
In Balti language Mayfung means festivity of waving fire and light at night. Locals celebrated the day on the night of Dec 21 to mark the end of the longest night of the year and start of the New Year.
After the darkness fell on Dec 21, people started the festivities in every village and town of Baltistan division.
Liaqat Anjum, a resident of Skardu, told Dawn that according to the tradition, people gathered at a mountain, holding burning wood in the air and singing songs. Then they started marching toward their respective villages holding the fire sticks high in the air and singing traditional songs.
Mr Anjum said people also gathered in an open area after the darkness fell, waved torches in their hands, lit fire balls and danced on traditional music.
They lit bonfires and swirled fireballs to celebrate the festival.
Sultan Ali, a local resident, said people celebrated the festival when temperatures dropped to minus 16 to 20 centigrade. Candles were also lighted at rooftops of houses.
There are various interpretations and views surrounding the festival. According to one myth, the festival is held to celebrate end of harsh winter and start of New Year.
Sultan Ali said people believed that celebration of the festival spared them from misfortunes. They believe that fires defend against misfortunes and protect them from natural disasters.
The Skardu city was lit with candles and bonfires and people wished each other happy ‘Losar’ the Balti New Year.
Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2020