Astrologers hoist a flag atop Samrat Yantra at Jantar Mantar in Jaipur to predict rain; (left) atrists pay their tributes to the rain god with coloured and decorated lanterns | Express
JAIPUR: The arrival of monsoon is no less than a festival in Jaipur. In a city that has no river and the available water sources have virtually run dry, the rainy season is desperately awaited. The hottest topic of discussion these days is when the rain gods will shower their blessings on the city.
A group of astrologers and scholars assembled at the Jantar Mantar in the city recently to predict rains using the instruments at the observatory. It’s an annual ritual carried out on the Guru Purnima day for the past 200 years. It involves hoisting of a flag and after observing the direction and intensity of winds at a particular time, the astrologers make their predictions.
“It is a more accurate method than today’s modern science in forecasting rains,” avers Vinod Shastri, renowned astrologer and former vice-chancellor of Sanskrit University in Jaipur.
Shivdutt Sharma, another astrologer, said: “Previously, the flag used for observing the wind’s flow and direction was worshipped one month prior to the Aashadh shukla purnima. At the time of sunset, all prominent scholars, astrologers and city residents used to gather around the flag.
After worshipping the flag with mantras and rituals, it was taken to the highest point on ‘Samrat Yantra’ of the observatory. The flow and direction of the flag was observed for two minutes and then the predictions were made following discussions among scholars. Members of the royal family hosted this event. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh who built the observatory himself was a scholar and astrologer.”
Shastri, who comes from a family of astrologers, said, “This year, the sunset time was 7:14 pm. At that time, the wind was blowing from west to east which depicts little rain. But for half-a-minute, the wind blew from southwest to northeast, which depicts very good rainfall. The scholars have predicted that half the month will see good rains and the next half will see dry spell.”
The state archaeology department organizes the event. Sarojini, a senior officer with the department and superintendant of Hawa Mahal, said: “I have been watching this event for 20 years. Astrologers and common people eagerly await the occasion.”
While the astrologers were busy predicting the rains, the artists of Jaipur celebrated with a range of activities. The most colorful activity was Rang Malhaar organised at the City Palace. Almost 100 artists of different age group gathered to pay their respect to Lord Indra through their art. Vidhyasagar Upadyay, a veteran artist and the person behind this event, said, “This year we have chosen lanterns as a theme to welcome rains.”