Show flops, but Tare-gana is counting stars

Taregana has been a hotbed of Maoists, and falls under the Naxal-infested Masaurhi subdivision. It was just 35 km from here that the biggest-ever jail-break incident took place in November 2005 in Jehanabad. Around 1,000 Naxalites, owing allegiance to the banned CPI (Maoist) had laid siege to the town, freed 341 jailbirds, looted more than 200 rifles and guns, and abducted 20-odd Ranveer Sena activists, before escaping under the cover of darkness.

But that’s now history. Of late, Taregana shot into fame once National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) declared that it was the best spot in the country, apart from Surat, Bhopal and Varanasi, to view the total solar eclipse. As a consequence, a sea of humanity, comprising women, children, college students, researchers and scientists descended on this hamlet to watch the celestial extravaganza.

Overnight, the place became the ‘star’ attraction. The newly-constructed referral hospital got a fresh coat. The burnt transformers were replaced within 24 hours (something unbelievable for the locals). Roads were made motorable in a short span of time. Obviously, the inhabitants were enjoying the moment of glory.

But on July 22, at the crack of dawn, dark clouds hovered over the sky and disappointment was writ large on the faces of everyone. As clouds eclipsed the cosmic show, those present there knew that it will be another 123 years for the next such big event.

But the locals were not complaining. They were enjoying every bit of the global media attention Taregana was flooded with. Journalists from electronic channels, scientists from abroad, and researchers from foreign countries had been camping there for the last two days.

Weather-god may have played a spoilsport, but the ‘gaonwallahs’ (village-folk) were elated and thanking God for the big event. They took pride in the fact that Taregana was associated with the sixth century astronomer-mathematician Arya Bhatta (476-550 AD), who first proposed that the earth revolves around the sun, and developed the concept of zero. The maths wizard used to gaze and count stars along with his pupils during the sixth century. Eventually, the place got the name Tare-gana, which means “counting the stars’.

After the celestial event was over, the villagers urged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who too had come there in the wee hours to watch the longest solar eclipse, to rename Taregana as Arya Bhatta Nagar as a token of honour to the Gupta period astronomer. The wish list also proposed that an astronomy research centre be opened in the village.

Flanked by scientists and researchers from India and abroad, Nitish assured that the government would not only develop sites related to life and times of Arya Bhatta, but also name the upcoming Knowledge University after the mathematician-cum-astronomer.

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