Clouds take sheen out of celestial extravaganza

As hype and enthusiasm peaked, the weather god played spoilsport

Rain-god poured cold water on the dreams of thousands of local people, students, researchers, scientists and tourists who had thronged Taregana to watch the total solar eclipse on Wednesday morning.

Hundreds of locals, including women and children, had walked miles barefoot since the wee hours to watch the celestial extravaganza at Taregana, a nondescript village in Bihar, which NASA had declared as the best place to view the solar eclipse.

Even Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his entourage was here to watch the longest solar eclipse. It had been a festive occasion since midnight. A sea of humanity could be seen waiting anxiously for the great moment.

There was not an inch of space left on the main road, nearby fields and the railway tracks. The celestial enthusiasts used two-wheelers, four-wheelers, buses, and trains on the Patna-Gaya route to reach this Naxal-infested area.

As the hype and enthusiasm increased with each passing moment, contrary to expectations, the weather god played spoilsport. Dark clouds hovered over the entire belt, and it started raining heavily in and around Patna. Though it did not rain in Taregana, some 40 km from the state capital, clouds took the sheen out of the celestial extravaganza. School children and women, carrying specially-designed sunglasses, were in particular disappointed over not being able to watch a total solar eclipse.

But the spirit of the local people did not diminish one bit. “Sky is not the limit,” said Nawal Kishore Rai, a farmer. “Now that Taregana has been shot into prominence, and its association with the sixth century astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta established, it’s quite possible that the government may initiate some activities to develop this place. And it’s also possible that some international help will pour in,” the humble farmer said, without showing any sign of remorse.

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