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The Eclipse


Here are a few superstitions associated with Eclipses, common amongst most Indians, followed by safe ways to view an eclipse.

Viewing a solar eclipse, total or partial, is no doubt an exciting event. Most children study eclipses, and seeing one will definitely help them understand and appreciate the topic a lot more. You don't have to book tickets to Libya in enthusiasm, but if the eclipse will be visible from your city, do make it a point to show it to your children. There are certain superstitions associated with eclipses in the Indian culture.


Here are some of them.


Pregnancy

A very prominent myth states that a pregnant woman should not view the eclipse, nor should she step out in the sun during an eclipse. As a result, thousands of pregnant women in India have been warned to stay home between the hours of 4:00 to 6:30. Some 'pandits' go a step further and advise the women to lie down and rest during this period. It is said that if a woman steps out during an eclipse, her child will be born with marks all over his body.

A pregnant woman should also not hold a pair of scissors, a pen, keys or any sharp object in her hand during an eclipse, because chances are that her child will be born with a cleft lip. Some pandits have stated that husbands too should do the same, and that they too should not handle any sharp objects or a pen for these hours, and it would be best if they returned home and rested for a few hours with their wives. After all, no one wants to take a chance with their unborn baby!


Other beliefs

Many people believe that during an eclipse, the earth is plunged into darkness, which is a negative force. As a result, one must pray for the duration of the eclipse, and take a bath afterwards. Offerings are made to the deity, and donations are made to the poor and needy. Precautions that should be taken when viewing an eclipse include:


Glasses

No one should view the eclipse with the naked eye. This is because the reduced lighting in the sky caused due to the eclipse, causes the pupils to dilate. In addition, the remaining portion of the sun that is visible, is extremely strong. As a result, our eyes absorb a large amount of UV radiation if we look directly at the eclipse. This can cause permanent eye damage, and even blindness. If you want your child to get a safe view of the eclipse, you could get him eclipse glasses. These are extremely inexpensive, so there's really no reason to think twice.


Filters

Another way to view the eclipse is through filters, attached to a telescope. It is NOT safe to view the eclipse through sunglasses, binoculars, a telescope without a filter, or even through a camera. People often believe that it is safe to view the eclipse's reflection in the water. Carry a bowl with you, and fill it with water or oil. You can then view the eclipse in your little 'mirror'.


Total Eclipse

The only time one can view the eclipse with the naked eye, is during those brief seconds or minutes that the sun is completely covered in a total solar eclipse.

 

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