Modern times have improved with so much technology and AI development, yet quite a handful population of people still get the creeps when they hear about paranormal activities or ghosts. And even till today, we still hear stories about unexplainable scenarios, reports on haunted houses or the mystery behind a year’s old construction where human activities are minimum and some people daringly carry such investigation to crack an explanation behind these mysterious events though, throughout the process, we do not know for sure whether their experiences were indeed real or it was just their imagination. We are going to talk about one such supernatural event that happens in our very own west Bengal called the Aleya ghost lights.
The term Sundarban is assumed to be originated from sundri or Sundari, the name of the area’s most abundant big mangrove trees. As you go closer to the coast, the forestland gives way to a low-lying mangrove swamp, which is surrounded by sand dunes and mudflats. This beautiful piece of forest in the depth of west Bengal can also become the most fearful and dark occult beauty in the night. It is in this place that the ghost lights phenomena took place.
Now let me give you a situation. Imagine that you are alone and you are walking down an old abandoned forest road at night where it’s pitch black and surrounded by wetlands and rattling trees, spooky right? So what if you see a big bright light in front of you? Wouldn’t you feel relieved that there’s finally some light that you could follow and walk into?
But what if that light is faint and small, almost in the size of a tennis ball that doesn’t illuminate the place but instead looks like a shine of the blade of a reaper? Wouldn’t that small piece of light be even spookier than the darkness?
This is exactly what’s been happening in the forest of Sunderband. If you are wandering through the Bengal wetlands, you can come across a terrifying sight of fluttering multicolored lights from afar. When these lights are neared, they submerge you in marshes.
Now coming to the actual story. According to the lore, it is said that as we walk down the dark roads of this forest. At one point, a bright ball of light will be visible in a short distance ahead of us. The fishermen who live close by the marshes say that those lights are the size of our fists and brighten in different colors.
When people try to follow the lights, they say that they are dead or mysteriously drowned. And even if they come back alive, that person would look spooked and transfixed. Along with this, any first-timers who witness this light get frightened for the rest of their lives since the aura around the light is said to be so negative, it directly affects our body.
In West Bengal, Aleya ghost lights can be spotted in bogs, swamps, and marshes. These lights, according to folk, folklore, are generated by the abandoned ghosts of dead fishermen who perished in these bogs. It is said to be one of West Bengal’s and India’s most haunted locations.
The Aleya ghost lights in West Bengal are not an isolated occurrence. These ghost lights have been sighted all around the planet and are called by different aliases such as will-o’-the-wisp and jack-o’-lantern. For centuries, the mystery of this Will-o’-the-wisp has perplexed and evoked both philosophers of science and people of spirituality.
Chir batti (ghost light), also spelt chhir batti or cheer batti, is a peculiar twirling light occurrence observed from the Banni grasslands, it is seasonal and occurs on marshy wetlands, and the adjoining desert of the marshy salt flats of the Rann of Kutch near the Indo-Pakistani border in Gujarat State, India, on dark nights. Since ancient times, this is referred to as Chir Batti in their Kutchhi–Sindhi language, with Chir meaning ghost and Batti meaning light. If you ask whether these lights occur only in India, then no. These lights are spotted all over the world and have different names and different folklore according to each country. But the thing that is weird about this is that in every country, people spotted these ghost lights only on marshy and swamp-like areas surrounded by dense forest and a water body.
As many more countries experience these phenomena, scientists have also taken an interest in bringing light to what can cause this ball of light to suddenly appear. In 1776, an Italian scientist named Alessandro Volta, the person who invented the electric batteries, reported these ghost lights to appear only in marshy and wet areas. The main reason for these glowing lights is the ionization of methane gas in the atmosphere. In 1832, another scientist named Major Louis explained that these glowing lights are nothing but the burning of gas. The Aleya ghost lights phenomena (ignis fatuus) are thought to be induced by the oxidation of phosphine (PH3), diphosphane (P2H4), and methane in modern research (CH4). Photon emissions can be caused by these chemicals, which are formed by organic degradation.
Because phosphine and diphosphate mix spontaneously and burn when they come into touch with oxygen in the air. Only minimal amounts of it would be required to ignite the much more plentiful methane. Phosphine produces phosphorus pentoxide as a by-product. It reacts with water vapor to form phosphoric acid. This explains the “viscous wetness” associated with ignis fatuus.
Like I said before, this phenomenon not only occurs in India but in many parts of the world. There are many eyewitnesses and police reports for missing people and dead people’s cases filed in America, Latvia, Australia, and so on.
In countries like Estonia, Latvia and Finland, these lights will appear in the swamps of dense forest. The lore says that ancient spirits are protecting the valuable hidden treasure. And in Britain, it is believed that these lights are the sentinels of that treasure. Also called the protectors of that treasure. Wouldn’t we all want a treasure hunt once in a while? But no guys, better to stay away, right?
In America, a vast country with countless beliefs, these lights hold so much folklore. Some believe that these lights are spirits of dead labourers who worked for the railway construction near the forest area. The swampy area of Massachusetts, known as the Bridgewater Triangle, has folklore of ghostly orbs of light. There have been modern observations of these ghost-lights in this area as well.
The fi Follet (or feu-Follet) of Louisiana derives from the French. The legend says that the fi Follet is a soul sent back from the dead to do God’s penance but attacks people for vengeance. Simply said, these lights are spirits of people who could not be baptized in their life. These spirits lights are said to lead the people who haven’t been baptized to the water body to drown them.
Some people also believe that these lights are “Luz Mala” (evil lights). They generate negative energy and affect the human brain. Some believe that these lights are goblins (dwarfs with pointy ears). They hold lanterns and lead the way for any human who crosses by towards them to keep them company. Scientists have also come up with a theory that this phenomenon is the same as fireflies glowing in the night. Or a type of mushroom called ‘honey fungus’ that looks like it brightens in the night.
But whatever the reason is, there is no definite proof that these lights are indeed natural. Or if those are really the spirits trying to communicate. Either way, if you’re planning on a little road trip near the deep forests woods, I’d tell you to lookout. But then again, I’m pretty sure it’d be a great experience to see the Aleya ghost lights in real. I mean, what’s wrong with a little curiosity right?