Maharani of Dumraon

 Maharani Beni Prashad Kuari of Dumraon
 arranged for the scientific research of solar eclipse of the 22nd  January,1898 at Dumraon


Eclipse and the Hindu mythology

THE HINDU WAY OF LOOKING AT AN ECLIPSE, both solar and lunar, are still amongst India's greatest events. As per Indian myths, Rahu is known as a sad character and some kind of bad genius in the shape a huge serpent.He is established as a lover of darkness to hide his wicked deeds. The Sun and the Moon trouble and enrage him by bringing his nefarious projects to light ; hence Rahu has more than one grudge against them.
Observer`s camp at Bhojpur Bungalow,Dumraon    

As per the myth in Bihar , in the event of Solar and lunar eclipse, Rahu tries to work his schemes in one or other of the luminaries, to swallow up altogether his old rivals and enemies. They naturally object to the process and then there is a struggle. But it seems that they would come off only second best, were it not that the  Rahu is, frightened by noise. During the period of eclipse, taking of any kind of food is prohibited and the food  has to  be protected against pollution by the insertion of some leaves of the sacred tulsi plant.People take bathe just after eclipse is over  and  then only take their meal. The earthen pots are broken. Brass pots are vigorously scrubbed, old clothes are piled up in a corner and the house comes in for a thorough cleaning...

During the Indian Solar Eclipse of January 22, 1898, it was felt by some of the Indian genius to   device the scientific  research  of it and the  careful study of its  negatives.

Dumraon had the great advantage of being several miles nearer the central line of the eclipse and the Bhojpur Bungalow being less than a mile and a half distant from it. This station had also been preferred by the party sent by the Photographic Department of the Survey of India. The true bearings of the place were also furnished  by the Survey Department.


The Maharani of Dumraon, Maharani Beni Prashad Kuari
  
was very much interested in this event.
Maharaja Bahadur Sir Radha Prashad Singh of Dumraon died in 1894 without any son. His Maharani Beni Kueri (1894 – 1907)succeeded,who was a very able lady who conducted the affairs of the Raj, without any Dewan ,much more efficiently than her late husband.She instructed Mr. C. Fox, the Manager of the Raj, to invite the St. Xavier's College Observatory party of the Western Bengal Mission to select Dumraon as their observing station and camp at Bhojpur Bungalow  along with their resources and  instruments.

The observers at Dumraon

The observers at Dumraon, draw conclusions from the data obtained during the eclipse. These presented a fairly large field for investigation. The camera gave fourteen good pictures of the corona, besides two series of fifteen and eleven photographs respectively taken before and after totality.










The deductions of  the outcome obtained at Dumraon by the St. Xavier's College Observatory

party, which studied the zone of totality, were of  great scientific value.The Jesuit Fathers of Bengal, who directed two important educational establishments and possessed a Solar Observatory, with a party of nine, organized  the study and research of the eclip

se  under the leadership of Rev. C. De Clippeleir, S.J., Director of the St. Xavier's Solar Observatory; to the solution of some of the solar problems which occupied the scientists of those days.

The party had  with them two telescopes, for direct ocular observations and five photographic apparatus ; three for photographs of the corona, and two for spectroscopic photography. One of the latter was a prismatic camera, the other had a concave two-inch grating. Moreover, a time-registering apparatus, built on the principle of Father Secchi's Meteor graph, recorded with great exactitude the exact moment of each exposure.

The usual fittings for meteorological and photometric records, sketches of the corona and star observations were  exclusive to their own means. Two very sensitive thermometers, which had been previously carefully compared with the new standard, were used. One of them was exposed to direct solar radiation, the other kept, with good exposure, in the shade.

They were consulted at regular intervals. The bulbs of these instruments  were not blackened, but a black-bulb radiation thermometer was also employed.The results obtained by the observers of other concomitant phenomena was sufficiently mentioned in the description of the eclipse.

 Two members of the party, detailed for sketch drawing, had before them pieces of cardboard covered with dead-black paper, on which white concentric and equidistant circles and orientation lines had previously been traced. the draftsman were instructed to bandage their eyes, at least ten minutes before totality.

 Satellite points of this observation was also organized at Ekma and Buxar.

 At Ekma ,the change to totality was very rapid, and accompanied suddenly by the bursting forth of the corona.The transformation was so beautiful as to evoke a cheer from many. The corona and streamers were given respectively as a silvery white and of a whitish light, while a lady at the same station thought the extremities were a little bluish.

At Buxar, the streamers were described as white, very precise and complete.

The observations on wild  and domestic animals were also studied on the solar eclipse of 22-1-1898 at Dumraon and other areas of Bihar, under such circumstances. Just before totality the frogs began to croak and the cocks to crow and the crows began flying in bodies to their roosting places.It was amusing to see these crows all flying back again, just after totality, with much cawing, as if they were explaining to each other how they had made a mistake. They behaved much in the same way elsewhere. Mention is also made of a few bats, flying-foxes, and of an owl that began flying. The birds and the cattle seemingly noticed a change. A batch of ducks on the lake seemed restless, while a herd of goats huddled themselves together and eventually sat down. Some cattle also that were browsing started moving, as if they thought it was time to go home ; while a flock of geese flew overhead, apparently making for their roosting-place. Then the ducks on the lake made for the edge of the water among the reeds. The fish showed visible signs of agitation, coming up to the surface and disappearing, and the smaller ones leaping out of the water.

Bibliography-


  • OBSERVATIONS TAKEN AT DUMRAON BEHAR, INDIA DURING THE ECLIPSE OF THE 22 ND JANUARY ,1898 BY REV. V. DE GAMPIGNEULLES
  • Calcutta. LONGMANS, GEEEN, AND CO. 39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON NEW YORK AND BOMBAY 1899

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