Astronomy enthusiasts take note, the total lunar eclipse occurring today, on November 8, will be the last one for the next three years. While this may come as bad news to those who relish celestial events, some cultures believe that the period surrounding eclipses is tainted with evil. According to them, it is a time associated with high energies, often negative, and even bad omens.
Scientifically, a total lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon passes into the shadow of the Earth cast by the sun, temporarily darkening it. But to ancient cultures that did not possess this knowledge, lunar eclipses were seen to overturn the normal order of things. These views came to be embedded in traditions that are still followed. Here is a list of the most fascinating, and downright puzzling Lunar Eclipse Don’ts.
1. Limit going outside
According to Hindu mythology, the demon Rahu causes lunar eclipses. When the ocean churned out an immortality elixir, one of the Asuras, Svarbhanu, disguised himself as a Deva and sat between the Sun and the Moon to drink it for himself. When Vishnu approached and Svarbhanu was promptly exposed by the Sun and the Moon, his head was severed. Since he had already ingested some nectar, it had become immortal. Seeking revenge, Svarbhanu’s head, now a separate entity called Rahu, chases the sun and moon to devour them. If he catches them we have an eclipse – he swallows the moon, which reappears out of his severed neck. Because eclipses mean a demon flying around, Hindu parents warn their families to stay home!
2. Don’t have sex
Many believe that one should not engage in sexual intercourse during a lunar eclipse. Since there is a perception of light being obscured during this time, we’re not thinking clearly and seeing clearly. Priya Kale, an astrologer based in New York City who’s currently studying Jyotish astrology, told Refinery29, “You’re exchanging a lot of energy during [sex] and this is a time where energy is being eclipsed. If I want something to last, I’m not going to be doing that during the eclipse.”
3. Don’t visit temples
Most temples are closed due to the Sutak period during an eclipse. This period refers to the time before the lunar or solar eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, it starts nine hours before. Temples across India have already announced their closure in view of the total lunar eclipse today. Believers are not allowed to interact with or touch idols during the eclipse. It is not just people who require a post-eclipse cleansing – many temples wash their idols afterwards too!
4. Don’t let the eclipse’s negativity remain on your body
Hindus are heavily urged to follow elaborate cleansing rituals following the eclipse to wash off the negativity generated by Rahu from the mind, body, and soul. Pregnant women are also recommended to take a cold water bath immediately following an eclipse – while still wearing their clothing!
5. Don’t cook food at home
Some Hindus believe that the rays of eclipse can affect cooked food, which when consumed during the eclipse period may cause indigestion and an upset stomach. Leftovers are usually thrown out and or Tulsi leaves are added to pots to purify old food.