| Amid a pitter-patter, actresses Locket Chatterjee and Konineeca Banerjee at Ramkrishna Athletic Club, Howrah, to pick the winners of the CESC The Telegraph True Spirit Puja. Low on budget, high on warmth, it got a five star. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Sept. 30: An azure sky, an autumn sun and happy tidings from the weather office ushered in Ashtami. But the day quickly turned dark and drizzling.
The weathermen have again spotted a silver streak among the dark clouds for their Navami and Dashami forecasts, but Calcutta will keep its fingers crossed.
“There is nothing to fear in the next 48 hours. However, we expect some isolated light to moderate rain as the monsoon current is still there,” said J.V.M. Naidu, the deputy director-general at the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore.
The prediction of a sunlit Sunday will make five-year-old Putul, who was stuck with her parents under a shade near Mohammad Ali Park this afternoon, hopeful once again.
“We did not venture out on Sashthi and Saptami because of the rain forecasts. Today was supposed to be bright and sunny… but look at us. God knows how long it will rain,” said father Partho Mondal, holding Putul’s little hand.
The sudden downpour on Ashtami brought both disappointment and disruption. Bhog distribution — a ritual in most paras — had to be cut short, many pandal-hoppers made a U-turn for home and crowd management became difficult in and around pandals.
“People were rushing towards the nearest shades for cover and that made our job difficult,” said Tarun Roy of Sealdah Railway Athletic Club.
A traffic sergeant on duty in front of Mohammad Ali Park echoed Roy’s concerns.
“Our traffic control went haywire. The vehicles flouted rules and sneaked into lanes... It will take a long time to bring things back to order,” said the officer, shouting instructions at buses and taxis.
But some faces were sporting a smile even in the chaos. Jeans rolled up, umbrella in hand and raincoat in plastic bag, boys and girls, men and women marched towards pandals in many places.
“I looked at the sky and was really scared. It has stopped raining for a while and count the number of people in the queue,” said an ecstatic Pratim Modak, a volunteer at Mohammad Ali Park.
Met officials said the depression that brought rain on Sashthi, Saptami and Ashtami crossed the Orissa coast from the Bay of Bengal yesterday, weakened today and was over Chhattisgarh this afternoon. It has shown signs of weakening further.
“There is no low pressure or depression brewing in the sea now and we don’t expect any heavy rain immediately,” said an official. “But the sky will remain cloudy.”
Organisers are not taking chances. “The rain has made the field difficult to access, we are putting planks across it,” said Roy of Sealdah, pointing to the soggy passageway.