‘Glacier marriage’

01 Oct 2020


DURING my work, I came across an interesting phenomenon in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is known as ‘glacier marriage’.

The people there celebrate it as human marriage. There is a male glacier and a female glacier. The male glacier is called ‘po gang’, while the female glacier is called ‘mo gang’. Male glaciers are grey in colour, having a lot of debris, while female glaciers are shiny white or blue.

The male glacier gives off little water and moves slowly, while a female glacier is a growing glacier that gives off a lot of water. This process is about grafting glaciers to create small new glaciers to increase water supply for crops and in some cases to sustain micro hydro power.

Grafting a new glacier requires a piece each of a ‘male’ and ‘female’ glacier weighing approximately 35kg. Villagers carefully pack these pieces in some coal and barley hay to keep them safe from warmer temperature.

Then they transport it to the designated place and cover them with the mixture of mud, ash and charcoal and close the site with heavy stones.

On this occasion, villagers also organise special prayers and sacrifices, usually animal slaughter which is customary in Muslim celebrations. After 10 or 12 years, these efforts are supposed to give birth to a glacier.

This whole process is meaningful and sacred for GB people. But I find it really weird to see such practices.

Sharmeen Farasat

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2020