The Eclipse (Grahan) Rituals in Hindu

Today is an 'annular' Solar Eclipse (Grahan) that is visible in India and many parts of the world. The Moon will cast it's shadow on Earth, as it would come in between the Sun and the Earth. Traditional Hinduism regards this as inauspicious.

The story of eclipses in Hindu mythology dates back to the 'Samudra Manthan' (Churning of Ocean), as described in both Hindu Texts namely, Bhagawat and Vishnu Puranas. After the 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. The incident doesn't last long because Rahu has no hands to grab onto these two celestial Gods. Rahu kaal is considered to be highly inauspicious in Hindu.

Rituals & Myths -

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.

According to racial minded Bhakats, the eclipse has become impure once again, like it used to be in 1120AD. Meditation, chanting Mantras and listening devotional songs during an eclipse are supposed to protect one from the evil effects. Sleeping, sexual intercourse and makeup are also prohibited during the eclipse.

There is widespread of WhatsApp forward on do's and don'ts during and after the eclipse. So after the event is over, most Bhakats will head to their bathrooms for bathing to become 'pure' once again. Many of them would have cooked and eaten early, before the food begins to get 'impure.'

The traditional Hindu mindsets has numerous example of persistence of social sickness such as if the shadow of a widow falling on another woman can make her infertile. Especially, pregnant women are considered to be susceptible to the evil forces during eclipses.

Despite the huge penetration of mobile Internet data, it's still an age of shadows in India. Rationality is eclipsed out. We have so called broad-minded people at downtown who are scared to offer a glass of water to our health professionals involved in COVID relief.

Sudesh Kumar

Insta / Youtube @ vegansudesh