The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are accustomed to living a challenging life. The harsh temperatures and cold make daily tasks challenging, especially in the winter season. Another issue that the people living in that area have is water scarcity. The primary water source for these people is the glaciers, and in the winter, water is hard to come by. However, for this reason, as many as five artificial glaciers have been created in GB.
Water is a basic human need, not just for daily life but also for cultivating and harvesting crops. People’s survival and their livelihood depend on it. Thus, Experts of the University of Gilgit-Baltistan, Karakoram International University Gilgit, and the WAFA Foundation collaborated on this artificial glacier program. After extensive research, they were able to build 5 glaciers which will be very useful for the people of GB.
These five glaciers or Ice Stupas were formed from freezing abundant water in the Summer season to be used in the dry season. This 50-foot glaciers glacier can be built in just a couple of weeks. It can provide over a quarter million gallons of water. These glaciers are also more than 4000 meters above sea level.
Interestingly, these glaciers are given names and identities according to the culture. Being based in the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan, these ice Stupas are given both male and female identities. The male glaciers are called the ‘’po gang’’, whereas the female glaciers are called the ‘’mo gang’’. The former indicates a grey sheet of debris, whereas the latter means shiny without any residue.
These glaciers weigh roughly 35 kg and have a sheet of hay, covering them on all sides. According to Shamsher Ali, a resident of Kharmang, the first layer of these glaciers are apricot kernels, then hay, then some ice. This practice is followed three or four times, after which the male glacier is placed on top of it. This practice celebrates the ‘’marriage of the glacier,’’ which is widespread in these regions. Its approach is not complete without hymns, rituals, and sacrificing of animals. The marriage of these glaciers is expected to be completed within 12 years.
These Ice Stupas have been formed for the first time this year. The artificial glaciers are observed every week and are expected to provide water to 1000 residents. If this is a success, then the same project will be undertaken again on a more significant level and will involve a lot of other areas with the same issues.