On October 25, a day after Laxmi Pooja a partial Solar Eclipse (Surya Grahan) is set to occur in some parts of the globe. The eclipse will be visible in the regions covering Europe, the Middle East, North-Eastern parts of Africa, Western Asia, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the North Indian Ocean.
People in parts of India will be able to witness the phenomenon, except a few states in the NorthEast region. According to PTI, the eclipse will begin in Iceland at around 02:29 PM (IST) and will end at around 06:32 PM over the Arabian Sea. It will be seen at its maximum from Russia at 04:30 PM.
In India, the Solar Eclipse will visible from 04:29 pm and will end with the sunset at 05:42 pm. The maximum eclipse time will be at 05:30 PM. The total duration of the partial solar eclipse is 1 hour, 39 minutes and 31 seconds. Since it’s a partial solar eclipse, the fraction of the Sun’s disc that the Moon will cover will differ depending on what part of the planet one views the phenomenon from.
The eclipse will be visible for the longest in Gujarat’s Dwarka and for the shortest time in West Bengal’s Kolkata. A few other cities that will witness the eclipse longer than an hour are New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Pune, Jaipur, Indore, Thane, Bhopal, Ludhiana, Agra, Chandigarh, Ujjain, Mathura, Porbandar, Gandhinagar, Silvasa, Surat, and Panaji.
The states where the eclipse will be visible for less than an hour are Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Lucknow, Kanpur, Nagpur, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Mangaluru, Coimbatore, Ooty, Varanasi, and Thiruvananthapuram. However, the eclipse will not be visible from Aizawl, Dibrugarh, Imphal, Itanagar, Kohima, Silchar, and Andaman & Nicobar Island.
In the 21st century, where every fact and myth is just a click away, people still turn to ignorance owing to either traditions or superstitions. Now, when the Moon passes in between of the Earth and the Sun and all three objects are in line, a solar eclipse takes place on a new moon day. When the lunar disc partially obscures the solar disc, it is known to be a partial solar eclipse.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that should be taken care of during eclipses:
- If you want to watch the eclipse, make sure to use the right filter like black polymer or aluminized Mylar on either the telescope or the glasses used for viewing
- Always wear protection in the eyes whenever planning to view the eclipse, even through a telescope
- Always drive with your headlights on during the eclipse
- Never, ever watch the eclipse with the naked eye, not even for a second.
- Do not use regular sunglasses to view the eclipse
- Avoid using any kind of camera to record the eclipse
- Never leave the kids unsupervised during an eclipse
Again, the above were scientific dos and don’ts that are proven, which scientist have been advising to follow for decades now.
However, there are other self-proclaimed ‘facts’ that religions, traditions(around the world) and mythology have stated, here are some myths and the corresponding facts that people should pay heed to:
Eclipses or grahan are considered to be inauspicious in the Hindu mythology, as they have been in mythologies around the world. However, since this phenomenon is taking place in the proximity of Diwali, we will look at it from the point of view revolving around the Hindu mythology.
The sun, which is worshipped as a major life force in the universe, disappears during the solar eclipse, making it an omen of all things evil. Naturally then, a number of rituals are conducted to minimise the negative effects of this natural phenomenon.
Why is it considered inauspicious? To answer this question one has to know about the mythological story of the demon Rahu:
The Sun, the Moon and the demon, Rahu
The story of eclipses in Hindu mythology dates back to the samudra manthan, as described in both Bhagawat and Vishnu Puranas. After the amrit or elixir of immortality was churned out of the ocean, the Devas used the apsara Mohini to trick the Asuras out of its share. One of the Asuras, Svarbhanu, disguised himself as a Deva, and sat between the Sun and the Moon for a drink of the elixir.
When Vishnu came closer, the Sun and the Moon revealed that Svarbhanu was a demon. By this time, however, Svarbhanu had already sipped on the drink. Vishnu immediately cut off his head, but since the demon had already swallowed a bit of the nectar, his head became immortal.
The head, known as a separate entity called Rahu (the detached body came to be known as Ketu), then swore vengeance against the Sun and the Moon for depriving him of the elixir. So, from time to time, Rahu catches up with the Sun and the Moon, and swallows them, and according to the mythology, this incident doesn’t last long because Rahu has no hands to grab onto these two celestial gods.
This is where the term “Rahu Kaal” comes from, and this period of time is considered highly inauspicious.
Superstitions surrounding the eclipses state that harmful agents are at play during these periods, and so, every action should be guided by the utmost caution during eclipses. The absence of the sun’s rays can increase the amount of bacteria and germs in the atmosphere, thereby polluting people.
Here are some of the myths during solar eclipses:
1. Eclipse and piety:
Worshipping or touching gods is prohibited during eclipses. Temple doors usually stay closed during eclipses. After the eclipse ends, the idols are supposed to be washed with Ganga water to purify them.
2. Eclipse protections:
Meditation, chanting hymns or mantras and singing devotional songs during an eclipse are supposed to protect one from the evil effects.
3. Eclipses and food:
Food should not be cooked during the eclipse, which may cause poisoning. Leftovers are finished off before the period of the eclipse. Some people in India leave tulsi or Indian basil leaves on cooked food items, and cover them to keep them safe and devoid of poison.
4. Daily routines:
Sleeping, urination, defecation, sexual intercourse and makeup are also prohibited during the eclipse.
5. Pregnant women and misscariages/labour complications:
Pregnant women are considered to be especially susceptible to the evil forces during eclipses. Not only are they supposed to abstain from activities like cutting vegetables and stitching clothes, but in some parts of India, they’re not even supposed to sit with their legs crossed.
Bathing is advised before the eclipse and after the eclipse is over, people are directed to take a bath, and change into fresh and clean clothes. Sprinkling of Ganga water or taking a dip in the Ganga is also supposed to wash away the evil brought by the eclipse.
1. Eclipses will poison any food that is prepared during the event.
NASA scientists debunk the myth saying, “Related to the false idea of harmful solar rays is that during a total solar eclipse, some kind of radiation is produced that will harm your food. If that were the case, the same radiations would harm the food in your pantry, or crops in the field. The basic idea is that total solar eclipses are terrifying and their ghostly green coronae look frightening, so it is natural to want to make up fearful stories about them and look for coincidences among events around you. If someone is accidentally food-poisoned with potato salad during an eclipse, some might argue that the event was related to the eclipse itself even though hundreds of other people at the same location were not at all affected.”
2. Eclipses are harbingers of something very bad about to happen.
“A classic case of what psychologists call Confirmation Bias is that we tend to remember all the occasions when two things happened together, but forget all of the other times when they did not. This gives us a biased view of causes and effects that we remember easily, because the human brain is predisposed to looking for, and remembering, patterns that can be used as survival rules-of-thumb. Total solar eclipses are not often recorded in the historical record, but they do tend to be recorded when they coincide with other historical events. For example in 763 B.C., early Assyrian records mention an eclipse in the same passage as an insurrection in the city of Ashur, now known as Qal’at Sherqat in Iraq, suggesting that the ancient people linked the two in their minds. Or when King Henry I of England, the son of William the Conqueror, died in A.D. 1133, the event coincided with a total solar eclipse. With a little work you can also find numerous cases when something good happened!” NASA asserts.
3. If you are pregnant you should not watch an eclipse because it can harm your baby
“This is related to the previous false idea that harmful radiations are emitted during a total solar eclipse. Although the electromagnetic radiation from the corona, seen as light, is perfectly safe, there is another form of radiation that travels to Earth from the sun. Deep in the solar interior where nuclear fusion takes place to light the sun, particles called neutrinos are born, and zip unimpeded out of the sun and into space. They also pass through the solid body of the moon during the eclipse and a second or so later reach Earth and pass through it too! Every second, your body is pelted by trillions of these neutrinos no matter if the sun is above or below the horizon. The only consequence is that every few minutes a few atoms in your body are transmuted into a different isotope by absorbing a neutrino. This is an entirely harmless effect and would not harm you, or if you are pregnant, the developing fetus,” NASA reveals.
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