|The Rann of Kutch on the top left in turquoise colour. www.wikiwand.com|
Marshy, desolate wetlands - Banni Grasslands Reserve lies on the southern edge of the salt flats of the Rann of Kutch in Kutch district, Gujarat. These are seasonal marshy grasslands that come into existence soon after the Monsoon season. Unlike the Muskeg (Bogland) of Athabasca Tar sands and other northern parts of Alberta, Canada where the ground subsides seasonally several feet soon after the snow melt in the Spring, these seasonal marshy lands are classified as world famous mystery place on the western part of Gujarat, India.
What is that unusual mystery about these deserted places? The local people frequently noticed few mysterious dancing lights above the ground which they call ''Chir Batti'' in their Kutchhi-Sindhi language - ''Chir'' meaning ghost and ''Batti'' meaning light.
|Chir Batti in the Banni Grasslands,the Rann of Kutch,Gujarat,India||-|
This weird phenomenon is not a new one and has occurred for centuries after the monsoon season. Numerous people have reported that these lights occurring on dark nights are as bright as a mercury lamp and also change color from blue, red, yellow to a pear - shaped moving ball. They do not confine to a particular shape. Nor do they move around and change colors in a definite pattern! They are sometimes very fast like a dart and sometimes stationary - may stay in the same place. Indian soldiers stationed there (neighboring country is Pakistan) and also the visitors say sometimes they get an eerie feeling that they are being followed by these strange lights that appear from the ground. They play hide and seek and follow too close and disappear. Mostly noticed after 8 PM on dark nights, these mysterious dancing lights may appear a few feet up to ten feet from the ground. These lights are known in certain parts of marshy areas and not beyond that.
Several reports of sightings come from the surroundings of the extinct Kiro (Keero, Khiero) volcano west from Charri Dand lagoon but there are reports about the sighting of 4 lights to the northeast from the lagoon in 23rd January 2010. As they are part and parcel of their lives, the local villagers call them ''ghost light.'' People who followed these lights as a sort of adventure finally ended up in the thorny jungles or desert of salt flats of the Rann.
I am from the Delta district of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu and when I was a kid, occasionally, I used to accompany my dad to visit our family farm where we had paddy fields and coconut groves. The staple crop even today is paddy in this coastal district. The local friendly villagers and farm workers used to kid me and also scare me silly by saying,'' Kuzanthe! ''kolluvaa pisaasu'' (fire ghost) eengke errukku, rathryele veleyele poonaa unnai athu piduchukkum - '' meaning '' Ah kid! There is a fire ghost out there, if you go out at night it'll grab you.'' In many villages here once in a while such fires (will-o'-the-wisp) do occur and are visible at night in places where the local farmers prepare compost or natural manure in a big pit by burying dead tree leaves, broken plants, stems, trash etc.,Such cases here are rare, unlike the Rann of Kutch where it is seasonal.
The simple explanation for this strange phenomenon is the production of methane gas from the decaying plants, etc in the marshes and it is the source for such strange lights at night.
Marshy, desolate wetlands -