Nondescript little Taregna, 35km from Patna, has finally found its place in the sun, ironically because of the lack of it.
It is from here that the July 22 solar eclipse will be seen for the longest time.
With scientists and astronomy enthusiasts descending here in droves, the villagers are agog with excitement.
“I have asked my husband, who works in Ara, and all my married daughters to be here on July 22 to see the eclipse,” said Gyanti Devi, whose home is on Taregnadih, the mound on which the laboratory of 4th century BC astronomer Aryabhatta existed.
Mixed with the joy of the recognition is resentment that it took a solar eclipse and international attention for the state government to acknowledge that Taregna existed.
“Why did it take so long for the government to recognise the importance of the place?” asked S.N. Pandey, a sexagenarian.
Compare this with Gujarat’s diamond city Surat, the other place in India where solar eclipse would be seen for a long duration. Expecting nearly 5,000 visitors, Gujarat tourism has identified about 250 homes to accommodate houseguests.
Meanwhile, Bihar has made arrangements to house 50 guests in the local hospital.
“We are expecting nearly 50 guests and scientists to view the solar eclipse. We have made food and lodging provisions for scientists and VIPs at the Sub-Divisional hospital as the place does not have any hotel or any on-payment hospitality,” said Masaurhi Sub-Divisional Officer, Birendra Kumar Sinha.
Astrologers make hay
Astrologers are having a field day predicting political upheaval, though opinion is divided on natural disasters.
The eclipse will add to the workload of security agencies, claim many.
“There could be a change of guard in political parties or in major political capitals of the West,” said Ganapathy Shastry, a Chennai-based astrologer.
Astrologer Pramod Patra from Orissa predicts natural disasters. “The eclipse may result in heavy monsoons and overflowing rivers breaking embankments.”