- Solar eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon partially or fully blocks the sun while passing between sun and earth
- People booked hotel rooms a year in advance to witness the eclipse that occurred in North America, on August 21, 2017
- While in the United States of America, everyone was excited to see the solar eclipse, in Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious
– by Dr Bharti Raizada
Chicago, August 25, 2017: Eclipse means total or partial obstruction of one celestial body by another or a loss of power, success, or popularity. Solar eclipse occurs when moon partially or fully blocks the sun while passing between sun and Earth. It happened on Aug. 21, 2017 in North America. There was so much excitement for this phenomenon. I heard that to see the eclipse, people booked hotel rooms a year in advance. On the day of eclipse, many people travelled and lot of traffic was on roads. At some places, it took people 4 hrs to drive 2 miles and some people even charged travelers’ up to $ 120 for a few minutes parking in their personal parking lots. In Chicago, there were four miles long lines to collect free special eclipse glasses from Adler Planetarium and Daley Plaza. As it was Monday, many people took off from work and children skipped school to enjoy this rare event. It was a cloudy day but still people were happy with whatever they got to see. There were speculations that stars would be visible during day time, however it did not happen.
It is recommended by IDPH ( Illinois Department of Public Health) not to look at Sun with regular sunglasses or other colored films that do not block all ultraviolet light.
Ways to see the Solar eclipse:
1. Special eclipse glasses-ISO-12312-2 compliant pair of special shades
2. No. 14 Welder’s glasses
3. Sun Funnel, which is a device which projects the light from Telescope and gives magnified image of sun on a screen
4. Pinhole box
5. Telescope with special filters
Effect Of Solar Eclipse: Eye Damage
1. Solar Retinopathy, which affects central vision, is caused by looking at sun directly. Usually it does not happen because of protective reflexes consisting of blinking and pupillary constriction and usually people do not look at sun continuously for a long period of time. During Eclipse, people stare at sun for longer periods and natural reflexes may not work as well, as the light is not so bright. There is no acute treatment. Vision, usually, slowly improves over days or months. Sometimes permanent damage to eye and blindness can result.
2. UV keratitis is inflammation of cornea. Symptoms are pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity etc. It usually occurs 6-12 hrs after the exposure and usually improves on its own over a few days.
Effects of Solar Eclipse on birds and animals:
Some scientists have reported in past that birds and animals start their evening routine when darkness happens during daytime. If this darkness occurs only for a couple of minutes, they get confused. Some animals daily routine gets disturbed, while some others are not affected by this change.
While solar eclipse in the United States of America, was a matter of immense excitement, in Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious and it is believed that everything on earth gets contaminated during Eclipse. This period of inauspiciousness is also called ‘sutak’. Sutak is usually for four ‘prahars’ or twelve hours, before the Grahan. During ‘sutak’ period, even the temple gates are closed.
Surya Grahan/Solar Eclipse occurs on Amavasya day. People do not eat any food during ‘sutak’ period. Already prepared food is saved by putting Tulsi leaves in it, as Tulsi is considered pious. Tulsi leaves are placed in remaining milk, Ghee, Salt etc. Pregnant women are advised not to do certain things like cutting and stitching. It is believed that if she does not follow certain guidelines, then baby can be born with birth defects or can have a birth mark. Birth mark on the unexposed body part is considered good, however, birthmark on exposed body part e.g. face, hands etc. is considered bad.
In the morning of Surya Grahan or Solar Eclipse day, people offer water, in a brass container, to Surya Bhagwan, Chant Om Suryay Namah and do three parikramas. They see sun rays in water and this act is considered good for eyes. People do not look at the Sun directly. Some people take water in a big container and look in it the image of Sun.
After the Surya Grahan/Solar Eclipse is over, people take bath, cook fresh food, donate food and other items to others, and feed birds and animals.