A torchlight procession in Malana village evokes an imagery of exoticism of the Orient. One can be hoodwinked in relating this fiery congregation with the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Take a second look and a group of villagers is seen rejoicing Fagdi Mela, one of their two biggest festivals.
On a starry February night, a fire is lit. The village ground still has unmelted snow. The bone chilling cold does little to damper the spirits of men. The cannabis was smoked as a community activity all day.
Dressed in the traditional attire consisting of Chola, kalgi (round cap) and tight pajamas, the men and women take to dancing around a fire. The drums and flute played to propitiate the local fire god. The glimpse of men dancing while holding fire torched sticks is an incredible sight.
“An ancient ritual they do in both Malana and Tosh. The entire village comes out at night with their fire torched pole to appease the local fire god. On this night they sacrifice a goat to Banasura Rakshasha,” tells Jaskaran Singh.
The animal sacrifice is a purification custom which is common in this area. The meat of the animal feeds the entire community.
Malana is no Shangri-la, with its brutal winters, closed social norms, difficult interactions with the outside world. One could be led to believe nothing good can come from this hamlet, except a high-quality Cannabis. But looking back at their festive spirit, there is something fun about these people after all.