As with all religious days, both the solar and lunar eclipses also have their Puranic episodes. Astronomically, the sun, the moon, and the earth are aligned during eclipses. When the moon comes in between the sun and earth, solar eclipse occurs. When the earth comes in between the sun and moon, lunar eclipse occurs. Many consider it as a natural geographical phenomenon. However, Hindu culture, which has been blessed with numerous sages, yogis and ‘seers’, has drawn out a list of do’s and don’ts during eclipses. The religious luminaries were able to realize the scientific truth that all objects exert their forces on each another. In fact, their ‘third eye of wisdom’ or ‘spiritual vision’ seems to have had an unlimited span of vision compared to the ‘eyes’ of science. It is the extraordinary ability of the ‘Seers’, who could hear and see what we cannot, that has initiated them to give guidelines for the lives of the future generations; our thanks to them. Now let us see what they have to say about the do’s and don’ts during the solar and lunar eclipses.
- It is advisable to be indoors during the eclipse.
- If it is obligatory to go outdoors, do not look up at the sun. If someone wants to see the eclipse itself, they are advised not to do so with the naked eye. It should be seen through special glasses meant for this purpose.
- Pregnant women should not look at the sun. It is said that if they see the eclipse, the child may be born with a defect; it may be born deaf, dumb or blind. For this reason householders are advised not to have their marital pleasure on the day of eclipse.
- Eating during the eclipse is not encouraged. It would also be ideal not to consume water unless someone is in real need of it. If elders, pregnant women, patients and children really need to eat something, they may be given fruits and drinks.
- Cut pieces of tharppai grass or Aruhampul and place it on all food items like rice, salt, oil, sugar, milk, vegetables, etc. It should also be placed on the lids of water containers and cooked food. Tharppai or Aruhampul must be also placed in front of divine photos in the altar.
- It is a good time for prayer, especially for meditation. It is feasible to recite devotional hymns like theevaaram and chant the manthras of our choice. Other compositions like the Kantha Sashti Kavasam can be sung or read. It is said that the benefits of chanting manthras and meditation during the eclipse is many more than the prayers at other times.
- It is said if the pregnant women keep chanting the names of Gods, the baby will acquire a lot of positive power.
- After the eclipse, we may have our bath and pray at our altar; we are not supposed to take oil bath. Once that is done, we may then eat. If possible, it is good to clean the house.
- The list of dhosha natchatthirams are given in the Temple’s notice about the eclipse. Since it is not possible to go to temples after the eclipse, we can keep chanting manthras, and after the eclipse have a bath and pray at the altar. It is said that it is effective to mix some rock salt in the water for our bath.