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Linda Shevloff, of Vancouver BC, offers us an article on the unusually heavy rains in Pune this year, written by her friend, Harish Thakkar.
My husband, Michael, and I first met Harish Thakkar and his wife, Jyotsna, in 1987. Michael and I were sheltering under a tree by the side of the road during a heavy rainstorm in Pune, India, when Harish stopped his car to offer us a ride home. As it happened, he too was a student of B.K.S. Iyengar and he had attended the same yoga class we had. All these years later we are still friends. Harish has now earned a doctorate in philosophy and religious studies, and he is currently pursuing an aspect of the Vedas for further study.
Harish sent me the following article he’d recently written about the heavy rains in Pune in September and October this year. As many of us have been to Pune but can’t travel there now because of the Corona virus, it is interesting to envisage the rains he depicts. I especially liked learning about the Sanskrit terms for the different types of rain.
I hope you enjoy it,
“Tropical Rain Forest in the making, i.e., Pune” or
“Rain Forecast Model : Ancient style according to Nakshatras”
There is no need to go to South America to experience a tropical rain forest. Fortunately, we have now had a Tropical Rain Forest situation for the last couple of weeks in our own hometown of Pune.
Please do not be surprised to read this because, truly, the present climatic conditions may resemble the climate found in the Amazon region.
The monsoon is still not over, yet what is this new phenomenon? At around 4 pm or, rather, any time from 2 pm onwards, the clouds start gathering, they cover the Sun, and it becomes dark and starts pouring. Sometimes it rains for 1 hour, sometimes the rains continue for 2 to 3 hours and sometimes it rains throughout the night intermittently. In the morning there may be a mist or foggy condition when rain particles are quite small combined with cold winds. It gives a feeling that you are in Simla or in Mahabaleshwar. Then after 8 or 9 am, we have bright sunshine. It does not feel that it is going to rain in the evening but the picture suddenly changes in the afternoon and it starts raining. The intensity of the rain is such that it could rain 25mm or, say 1 inch, in one hour. As per the forecast by the Nakshatra method, we can still expect moderate to good rainfall until the 26th October 2020 in Pune, Mumbai and in many parts of the state of Maharashtra.
In India we have had a rain-forecasting model that has been in existence since ancient times. It is available in our Indian Panchang, or Almanac. One may recall that the Weather bureau also has a Seasonal Forecast model based on various parameters. Depending upon how many parameters are favourable, the prediction of rain is done accordingly. The method is the same for the modern system as well as the ancient system as to how many parameters are favourable for a good monsoon.
In our Panchang there are 27 “Nakshatras”, and out of these, 11 Nakshatras are rain- bearing, namely: Mriga, Aadra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashlesha, Magha, Poorva, Uttara, Hasta, Chitra and Swati. According to the ‘Panchang’ we have 3 rain-bearing Nakshatras, i.e., Hasta, Chitra and Swati, for 4 – 5 more weeks, extending almost up to the end of October. Therefore, there are chances of getting good rains till that date. The rains in Hasta Nakshatra somewhat resemble the water thrown by an Elephant from his Trunk. The name “Hasta” means Elephant in Sanskrit. This Nakshatra may bring good rains from 27th Sept and is in effect till 08th Oct.
The different Nakshatras have different Vahanas (vehicles). The intensity and pattern of rain in a particular Nakshatra will also depend upon what Vahanas it has. For example, if the Vahana is Horse, it will result in powerful rains, if the Vahana is Fox, the rain is uneven and broken, if the Vahana is Mouse, the rains are scanty and only at a few places. Curious people can find more details by referring to a ‘Panchang’. The Datey Panchang is the most referred one in Maharashtra.
How many of us know that Pune has already reached its average annual rainfall of around 750mm? With some rain-bearing Nakshatras yet to arrive, we are likely to receive even more rains which will be above the average rainfall for Pune. Some of us may have many questions. Are these rains sufficient for the full year? Have they reached every part of the state? Can we summon the rains to go and shower in a particular place where rain is still needed? Is there any way to do so? Absolutely not! After all, it is nature. We cannot control it; rather we have to respect it.
It is said that this Universe is made of 5 Tatvaas, or elements, namely Prithvi, Aap, Tej, Vayu and Aakash. Out of these, Aap is water; it is one of the Panchamahabhootas. We must respect it.
Now, we come to the results or effects due to the continued rains. The best part is we have lots of greenery everywhere. If one goes just a few kilometers away from Pune one can see lush green fields and bumper crops. However, it is not advisable, and it will not be prudent, to venture out much with the Corona virus around. One can take a drive on Pune-Mumbai Express Way to experience it.
As the dust settles down due to the rain, the sky bears a wonderful blue colour resembling ones found in Tropical islands. So enjoy the Tropical Rain Forest Region in Pune while it lasts !!!
Dr. Harish G. Thakkar
Freelance Journalist, Indologist, Pune, India