Anita was in a fix.
She was going to have her first baby some time in late July and she
was very tense. Not because she was a first-
but because she feared that her baby would be born on the day of the
An MBA graduate and an
employee of an MNC, Anita was merely bowing to the pressures of
seniors at home and she certainly did not want anything to go wrong.
She persuaded her gynecologist to pre pone her delivery a day before
the eclipse despite the good doctor assuring her that there was no
truth in these well -fabricated myths.
Solar eclipse is a natural
phenomenon that occurs when the moon comes in between the sun and the
earth, blocking light from the sun. This casts a huge shadow on the
earth. During this time the sun's corona becomes clearly visible.
Other planets like the
Mercury and Venus too come between the sun and the earth but they are
too far away to cause an impact. The moon on the other hand is 400
times closer to the earth and during the solar eclipse they look equal
Solar Eclipse has been
traditionally observed as an ominous sign and therefore superstitions
abound in association with this natural phenomenon.
• Depending on the
culture, it is believed that during the eclipse the sun is swallowed
by demons, dragons or devilish dogs.
• Pregnant women have
traditionally been coaxed to stay indoors and not to cut vegetables
(and such like) if they wanted healthy babies without congenital
• Pregnant women are
also prevented from sewing so that they do not have deformed
• People lock
themselves indoors to avoid the bad rays of the eclipsed sun
• Some people cleanse
themselves in holy rivers during an eclipse
• There are many who do
not cook on an eclipse day because they believe that germs abound
during this time
Already the Indian
astrolgers are predicting doom and disaster as a consequence of the
solar eclipse not only in India , but in China and the South East.
They have predicted communal tensions and political assassinations.
The rational and the
scientifically- inclined have all along challenged the superstitions
that exist and are willing to predict otherwise.
They plan to further
educate the general public and have already persuaded them to do away
with false beliefs and treat the eclipse as a natural phenomenon.
Having allayed their
fears, people have been coming out in large numbers in the recent
years to view the eclipse - so much so that the Scientific forum's
Tamil Nadu chapter soon ran out of supply of solar filters.
People are even traveling
long distance to view this once- in -a- lifetime spectacle.
A Delhi-based organisation, SPACE
which is striving to make science and astronomy popular among young
people, is taking interested
folks to Varanasi (in
Uttar Pradesh) and to Sasaram (near Patna) in the state of Bihar to
view the solar eclipse.
chartered by Cox
and Kings to
enable people to view the eclipse from a 'sun side' seat at
41,000 feet, on a three hour flight from Delhi. To the privileged
few, who have paid 1,600 dollars to drink in this spectacle, experts
will explain the goings on. There is a 90% chance of viewing the
eclipse on this flight while there is only a 40% chance on the
1. Watch the
eclipse through specially made viewing glasses or through solar
filters designed to view the sun. The pin- hole projection method is
the safest way.
2. Remember that the sun's
rays can impair or cause permanent eye damage when viewed through
the naked eye
3. Avoid watching the solar eclipse through binoculars
4. Avoid watching the eclipse using sunglasses,
smoked glass, black-and-white film, colour film or negatives
5. Always watch
the solar eclipse under the guidance of experts
Dr. REEJA THARU/M