Monday, 30th October 2017

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Brief rain helps Puja crowd

Showers cool Calcutta; Met spies light to moderate rain today, increase in intensity on Tuesday

By TT Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 7.10.19, 12:59 AM
  • Updated 7.10.19, 12:59 AM
  • 3 mins read
Tarun Sangha in Dum Dum Park on Ashtami afternoon Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

The forecast of rain was thought to be dampener for Puja revellers but a short spell of shower on Sunday afternoon in parts of Calcutta turned out to be the comforter for pandal-hoppers.

The brief spell of rain in several parts of the city helped protect revellers from the heat resulting from a sunny Sunday morning. The gentle breeze made the weather more comfortable towards the evening.

A resident of Baguiati said he found the roads empty when he was headed to a friend’s place in Jadavpur in the afternoon. But when they set out to visit pandals in the evening, the roads were brimming with people. Subhendu Banerjee, who works in the IT sector, said he didn’t expect a sudden crowd surge.

From afternoon, pandal-hoppers started hitting the road. From north to south, vehicle movement was slow in some of the roads.

Rashbehari Avenue, Harish Mukherjee Road and Sadananda Road saw a long queue of vehicles.

The Rashbehari crossing was a sea of people whenever police stopped vehicles to let people cross.

In north Calcutta, too, Jessore Road, especially near Dum Dum Park and BT Road, was chock-a-block.

“I don’t like to visit pandals where the crowd turnout is very high. After seeing the roads in the afternoon I thought the pandals would be less crowded. But when we stepped out, it was just like any other Durga Puja evening,” he said. Banerjee and his friends visited Selimpur Pally, Jodhpur Park and Babu Bagan Sarbojonin.

A friend of Banerjee said she felt people had apprehended rain and didn’t step out earlier in the day. “It rained in various places throughout the afternoon, but it didn’t rain after that. I think people started to step out of their homes when they realised the rain was not intense or heavy,” she said.

Police officers controlling traffic said they felt an increase in the crowd turnout as the evening grew but added that it was not like previous years.

“A lot of people come to Calcutta from the neighbouring districts. It could be that a large section of that crowd didn’t come fearing rain,” an officer said.

The Met office said Monday’s weather was likely to remain like that of Sunday. A Met official said moderate rain was expected on Monday. “A cyclonic circulation that had formed over east Uttar Pradesh and had reached Jharkhand on Saturday, further drifted towards Odisha on Sunday. Under the influence of the cyclonic circulation it is likely to rain in the city and neighbouring areas.”

The official said a trough of low pressure that extended till Odisha after crossing Bengal was contributing to the rain. “There will be light to moderate rain on Monday, too, but the intensity of rain is likely to be more on Tuesday,” the official said.

The rain was not uniform across the city and residents of north Calcutta said there were traces of rain there. But south Calcutta received comparatively more rain. An elderly couple had to wait for 30 minutes at a community Puja in Lake Gardens around 3pm. “It was raining; so, we couldn’t step out,” the man said.

But a college teacher who was in Colootala around the same time said there were only a few drops of rain. “We feared it would rain and thought about returning home quickly; but even the scarce rain stopped in some time. We then went to Santosh Mitra Square and returned home thereafter,” his wife said.

A police officer on duty at Gariahat said people from the outskirts of the city had come in greater numbers towards late evening.

“These people had apprehended heavy rain but when it didn’t rain they came out. They reached the city late and that is why the crowd was more in the evening,” he said.

Aurko Maitra, a resident of Salt Lake, who was in Santiniketan on Sunday morning and reached Calcutta late in the afternoon, made the most of the cool weather.

“This is my first Durga Puja in the city; so, I was fascinated to see the entire neighbourhood completely transformed. The streets in North Calcutta are so alive,” Maitra, a resident of Singapore, said.

He said the rain had made it easier for him to go pandal-hopping. “Despite having travelled from Santiniketan, I didn’t feel tired when I went pandal-hopping. The rain had made the air cooler and that helped me.”