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Ghost Lights
'Aleya Ghost Lights' in the Marshes of West Bengal, India
'Aleya Ghost lights' in the marshes of West Bengal, India, Credit:'

Aleya Ghost Lights

  For centuries humans, it is reported, have been scared of spirits or  unexplained paranormal forces. Once in a while, there are reports on haunted houses or places, where human activities are minimal. So, there is no dearth of strange stories about numerous adventurous people who visit well-known haunted, spooky places to observe the strange objects, some scary sounds or noises, surprisingly without giving room to fear, etc. Some made serious attempts to go into the root causes of such strange phenomenons. They daringly carry out such investigation in the dead of night during which time, it is believed by people  paranormal activities are high. So far no clear cut answer is available. People are at a loss to know, they are real or just figment of our imagination that plays games with our mind. However, there are certain strange, scary things happening around us that can be explained fairly in a scientific way.

Ghost lights are unexplained  glowing lights of various colors reported  typically by local fishermen in the marshes of West Bengal, India and also in Bangladesh. Indeed, as in many parts of the world, such strange lights with beautiful glow  occur  during nights only. In  the marshes and swamps of Bengal, the incidence of display of shimmering colorful lights in the distance is frequent. If somebody were to witness them for the first time, indeed a spine-chilling experience in the dead of night, he would just freeze or just stand there with his tongue tied out of fear. Some  fishermen died upon seeing the moving lights as a result of shock and extreme fear of facing something  horrible.

Aleya Ghost Lights' in the marshes of West Bengal, India. Credit:

Frequently referred to as  ''Aleya lights'' for decades, the fishermen from the fishing communities  were reported to have lost their bearing and died by drowning. Local communities in the region believe that such eerie nightly  hovering lights may be apparitions or the the ghosts of the dead fishermen from their watery graves.

Strangely, many of the nightly ghost lights  reported from various parts of the world, are commonly  associated with marshes, swamps or bog lands.  These nightly fire sightings are also known as ''will-o-the wisp'' or ''jack-o-lantern''. In Britain will-o-the-wisps are supposedly the sentinels of treasure, much like the Irish Leprechaun leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches. There are reports of people in the wooded areas of Britain getting lost their ways by perusing such lights. 'Pixy lights' from Devon and Cornwall in the bog lands are associated with "lambent light"  which the "Old Norse" might have seen guarding their tombs. The will-o-the wisp has variant forms in  the USA. Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Appalachia, and Newfoundland, etc.

The are a few explanations for such phenomenon. The Italian scientist A.Volta, the discoverer of Methane gas, believed such lights are often reported to occur only in  swamps and marshes and the main reason for the glowing nightly lights is ionization of methane. The source for the production of methane is decaying organic matter that is available in plenty in the water-logged swampy or bog lands.

Gases such as phosphine, diphosphane  and methane are products of decaying organic matter and tend to oxidize upon contact with oxygen. After ionization, the molecules of these gases cause packets of light - photon. The color variation is due to different gas and wavelengths.The duration of lights depends on the amount of methane in the swamps' decaying organic matter.

One earth scientist attributes the lights to piezoelectric, property in quartz, silicon, or arsenic that may also produce sparks of electricity during some geologic faulting and associated frictions of two moving blocks of rocks on opposite sides.The sparks might ignite the available methane in that area. These instances are rare and may occur in only in tectonic regions.


An 1882 oil painting of a will-o'-the-wisp by Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin - repro from art book


  1. George Rogers Mansfield (1971) Origin of the Brown Mountain Light in North Carolina, US Geological Survey, Circular 646.
  3. Jerome Clark, Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena, Visible Ink Press, 1993.
External links See also:
  • Brown Mountain Lights
  • Earthquake Light - An earthquake light is an unusual luminous aerial phenomenon that reportedly appears in the sky at or near areas of tectonic stress, seismic activity, or volcanic eruptions. Once commonly challenged, it was not until photographs were taken during the Matsushiro earthquake swarm in Nagano, Japan, from 1965 through 1967, that the seismology community acknowledged their occurrence.
  • Hessdalen Lights
  • Marfa Lights - The Marfa lights or the Marfa ghost lights are allegedly paranormal lights (known as "ghost lights") usually seen near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States. While the lights have gained an extensive reputation as an unexplained phenomenon, recent research has suggested that most, if not all, of the lights are atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires.
  • Paulding Light
  • St. Elmo's fire - St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light[1]) is an electrical weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge originating from a grounded object in an atmospheric electric field (such as those generated by thunderstorms created by a volcanic explosion). St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formiae (also called St. Elmo, the Italian name for St. Erasmus), the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name.
  • The Spooklight
  • The Eerie 'Aleya dancing Ghost lights' in the swamps -  West Bengal, India
  • Will-o'-the-wisp - Swamp Gas - A will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus (Latin, from ignis, "fire" + fatuus, "foolish"), also called will-o'-wisp, corpse candle, jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, gunderslislik, and wisp, is a Folklore depiction of ghostly light sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is sometimes said to recede if approached. Much folklore surrounds the phenomenon.
An artist's rendering of will-o'-the-wisp
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