Why one should follow traditional rules during a solar eclipse?
From time immemorial we have heard several stories from our grandparents explaining us about the evil connotations on solar and lunar eclipses, the two Grahas (planets) – Rahu and Ketu in Indian mythology as they say. It is this legend that gives rise to the traditional belief that ‘Grahan Kaal’ is an inauspicious period during which evil forces are active, especially harmful for pregnant woman.
It was never necessary to follow these traditional rules during a solar eclipse yet people and especially women follow it to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. I would like to list out a few rules which is followed by people all over India;
- Pregnancy -There are a lot of precautions women need to take during pregnancy to ensure delivery of a healthy baby. There are no clear scientific facts that proves that Grahan affect Pregnant women. Some researchers talk about the damage caused to offspring of animals to support their claim about the evil effects of Grahan on pregnant women. Again people believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. A pregnant woman should not view Grahan with naked eyes. It’s actually adhering to the traditional rules coined by the elderly in the family
- Fasting – People usually fast on certain religious days as per their beliefs. If religion believed that taking food in a particular period actually affects one’s health adversely, then this part of the society (old, children and patients) would have been the first whom the religion would have tried to save from the adverse effects. What is the message then?
We believe the following could be the probable reasons as per our research;
A particular reason to be to control diet and not consume meat or any fat or oily food. So fasting on a particular and on religious occasions could serve that purpose. If you see the list of ‘Upavasas’ (fasting schedule) in Hindu religion, you can notice that there is at least one day every month when the religion expects you to fast (but doesn’t force you to do it). Eclipses are just another occasion the religion identified to promote this way of diet controlling. Since diet is not taken by everyone seriously, perhaps that’s why the religion promoted it in the name of fasting during several occasions with eclipses being one of them. Also fastings are usually done to promote the cause of savings. The belief goes if you fast,certain gods will be happy and will bless you with enormous wealth and prosperity, personally and professionally.
One scientific reason which explains the tradition could be breathing space or take some time off from the stressful life which each one of us have. People are usually not allowed to work on this day. This is again strongly related to taking care of health and advocating good health and ample rest. It is also widely believed that no important work should be done during the eclipse period. Similarly, food is also not made during this period. It was a good excuse for all family members, male and female, actually get some time off from their busy schedule and come together and the tradition has continued. Solar and lunar eclipses happen at least 5-6 times a year. So effectively it means 5-6 days off in a year for everyone to use that time in a lucrative way.
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