People’s excitement on viewing the solar eclipse that occurred on August 21, 2017, brought back my lunar eclipse experience. Viewing an eclipse, Solar or Lunar, total or partial, is no doubt an exciting event! Certainly, once in a lifetime experience. You have to be in the right place at the right time. But, in Indian culture, eclipses had certain superstitious beliefs. As a kid, talking and learning about eclipses were fascinating for me. But my parents restricted me from viewing the eclipse as it might be harmful to the eyes.
Mostly during an eclipse, I would stay at home with my working mom as schools would declare it as Holiday. Yet, sometimes I manage to sneak out and try viewing the eclipse. However, if it’s solar or lunar eclipse it always seems like an overcast day, perhaps a bit eerie, with the sun not shining as brightly.
Eclipse Rituals Followed in Indian Culture:
I wasn’t credulous enough to believe in the eclipse rituals knowing that eclipses are caused when these heavenly bodies, namely the sun, moon and the earth cross each other’s path. Nothing changed my perspective of not caring about the superstitions associated with the eclipse. Until I got pregnant!
When I was 8 months pregnant on April 4, 2015, a Lunar eclipse occurred in India and the beginning of the eclipse was at 3.47 pm and it ended at 7.32 pm. I was supposed to adhere to lots of do’s and don’ts during an eclipse as per my family’s advice. Even though I am aware that the stories and beliefs are myths, caring for a tiny human being inside me became cause for fear.
My pregnancy days made me weak. I decided not to look for explanations that question my baby’s safety. So my pregnancy brain worked in a way to believe the scary stories of viewing the eclipse.
My family’s rules for this day –
” Do not cook or light a matchstick” – because the child would bear some burn scars.
“Don’t view the eclipse or step outside in the sun”- because if a woman steps out during an eclipse, her child will be born with marks all over his/her body.
“Do not cut or stitch anything, not to hold a pen, keys or any sharp object in my hand!” – because chances are that the child will be born with a cleft lip.
“No reading or browsing” – because the child will be born with eye problems or eye deformity.
” No eating or drinking anything” – because any food cooked or eaten while an eclipse happens will be poisonous and impure.
Finally, they decided it would be better if I stayed in a room, with the windows locked (covered with dark curtains). I wondered how would I spend about 4 hours sitting idle inside a room without eating, drinking, reading, browsing etc. They suggested I should rest or sleep.
Sleep I did, but not too long especially when my family advised me only to sleep. It was the longest afternoon of my life. Fortunately, I had my child’s company who were listening to me from my womb. As the time approached the end of the lunar eclipse I was on a verge to break the door and get out. Finally, the lunar eclipse ended and the moon is out of the Earth’s shadow as am I out of my room. At last, I had to take a head shower and worship the God and I thank him for helping me to successfully complete the eclipse ritual. I felt relieved.
Putting my baby first:
I was not happy by playing dumb believing the myths but I remained satisfied for being a good mother. My mother-in-law had no intention to stop me from seeing the eclipse other than caring for her grand kid’s well being and I respect her love. I chose to sleep over my logical-thinking out of love and respect for my baby and mother in law.
Ancient belief associated with Eclipse:
Later I tried to understand why these events were such a big deal to elders. Eclipses were considered to be an important event from ancient times. Especially people who worshiped the sun considered the eclipse as a negative force which plunges the earth into darkness. In the middle of the day, the sun suddenly going dark is viewed as a bad omen. Which could be a frightening experience. I don’t want to be a quintessential rebel and judge my Elders’ belief. While science has given the perfect explanation for the natural phenomenon like Solar and Lunar eclipse, religion always chooses to lie in the domain of faith in the unknown rather than accepting the facts to usher in a change.
What was your experience on eclipse watching? Do you have any restrictions or family ritual to follow during an eclipse? Share your stories with me .