City of Walking Fire

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A scene from Fasnacht festival in Leistal, Switzerland.

In this old town, people carry fire through the city gates to mark the beginning of Fasnacht. This is a cherished tradition that punctually starts at 7 pm every year in mid-February since one can remember.

People form all walks of life participate in this crowd funded event with inspiring zeal to uphold the local culture and tradition, and to make merry with everyone. The whole seemingly dangerous event was organized with impeccable detail – this shouldn’t be surprising in Swiss. Fire safety personnel were manning the streets with water hoses and extinguishers, ready to tackle any untoward situation. Each of those who were carrying heavy bunch of fire sticks did his or her part by wearing helmet and jacket. However, there were instances when the loosely coupled fire sticks fell on the participant’s back, or, much worse,  when the heaviness of fire was overpowering the balance and starting to fall, these were taken care by prompt fire personnel, who doused any falling fire, and the cheers of BRAVO! from all around.

The whole event lasted for around two hours. One might wonder how so many people carrying lethal amount of fire were managed, preventing havoc that could’ve occurred by running into one another .Participants were divided into groups. Some groups consisted of people carrying fire on their back while others of those who pulled a humongous fire cart. There was a near perfect timing and synchronicity among each group. With safe distance between each group tacitly maintained, the parade progressed stopping every few mins, to allow some time for fire personnel to cool down wooden constructed city gates. The sequence of events was as follows; A group came with fire, People around cheered, group stopped and waited for few mins, City gates were ready for next group, the group marched ahead, people cheered for upcoming group. This sequence was continuously repeated for two hours without even a slightest detour – expect none when you’r in Swiss. My friend was keeping count of the groups, but they were so many that he lost his count.

Walk of Fire

 

 

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A scene from Fasnacht festival in Leistal, Switzerland.

In this old town, people carry fire through the city gates to mark the beginning of Fasnacht. Carrying fire on their backs or in bandwagons is a cherished tradition that starts at 7 pm, when the town bell is struck, every year in mid-February since one can remember.

In the cold of winter, it was pleasantly warm to feel the heat from a massive fire parade.