BHUNTAR,KULLU VALLEY, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.

Need rain? Burn some bush.

Rain is good. In summer it brings down the heat and in winter it makes the soil fertile for next year’s harvest. But just what do you do, when the rain god refuses to comply with your wishes? Apparently, one popular local custom in the hills of Himachal, is to kindle some crackling forest fires in an attempt to make theĀ heavens open up and pour forth, if only in gentle showers.

During hot dry spells and repeatedly at the onset of winters, dense patches of vegetation is set alight for this purpose and left to smolder and fume, sometimes on several hills simultaneously. The practice is more science than ritual. Send up enough hot air and it will cool, condense and come back down again as rain. The fires, set on a miniature scale normally burn-out within the span of a night or the following day. The rain, however, is not guaranteed.