What is Lunar Eclipse
Every so often, the silvery orb of the full moon undergoes a dramatic transformation. Darkness slips across the lunar face, and for a while, the entire moon may be colored a deep blood red. This is what’s known as a total lunar eclipse, when the moon, the sun, and Earth line up in just the right way for the moon to be engulfed in Earth’s shadow. This cosmic phenomenon has delighted or terrified humanity throughout recorded history, and stronomers have learned how to track celestial motions to predict when a lunar eclipse will occur in the centuries to come.
When the moon is completely swallowed up by the darkest part of the planet’s shadow, we see a total lunar eclipse. Its peak, called totality, can last for up to an hour and 47 minutes, while the full eclipse can last about six hours from start to finish. During totality, the lunar orb changes color and becomes yellow, ruddy orange, or even a deep crimson, which is why a total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon. This ominous-looking effect appears because the moon does not generate its own light, and what we normally see as moonlight is really reflected light from the sun.
* Lunar eclipse myths :
Today, lunar eclipses are cause for celebration, and many people host eclipse- viewing parties and even travel great distances to see one in person. But in the past eclipses have sparked a number of myths and legends linked to more colorful interpretations for the moon’s vanishing act.
Thanks to our understanding of the ongoing dance of orbital dynamics, astronomers are able to calculate when eclipses must have happened in the past. By checking those dates against written accounts, scientists can determine when a total lunar eclipse must have happened during a moment of historical significance.
Such celestial events have always inspired awe or fear among the people. Unlike solar eclipse, the lunar eclipse can be viewed through naked eyes. Although it is just a celestial event, Indians have attached many believes to it. Some think of it as good for their business, career or health, while others consider it inauspicious for them.
* LUNAR ECLIPSE IN HINDUISM :
According to Ancient Hindu Epics and Literature, Solar and Lunar Eclipses were defined at the time of Mahabharata much before Science came into existence.
A solar eclipse finds mention in the Mahabharata, where Lord Krishna skillfully uses his knowledge of eclipse predictions to save the life of Arjuna, the great warrior. The accuracy with which eclipses have been predicted is incredible. In the Indian almanacs, the time at which an eclipse begins, at which it peaks, and when its ends have all been given. This entire period of an eclipse is called the parvakala.
The Hindu scriptures, Puranas narrate the story of how the eclipse came into existence:
After the churning of the ocean by the Devas (gods) and Daityas (demons), Amrut (nectar of immortality) was produced. It so happened that the demons got the nectar first, but Lord Vishnu took the form an apsara (a beautiful celestial woman) called Mohini.
She tricked the demons and took the nectar away from them. Once the devas received the Amrut, they asked Lord Vishnu to distribute the Amrut to all the gods equally. While He was serving everyone Amrut, a demon, named Rahu, through yogic powers transformed himself into a deva and sat in between the Sun and the Moon. They both recognized the demon in the form of a deva. When Lord Vishnu unknowingly served Amrut to Rahu, both the sun and the moon revealed that it was a demon. So, Lord Vishnu beheaded Rahu instantly with his Sudarshan chakra. But by the time He had beheaded him, Rahu had drunk the Amrut.
The Amrut had reached Rahu’s throat, making his head immortal. Rahu’s head thus became a planet. Since the Sun-god and the Moon-god told God about Rahu, Rahu nursed a hatred for them and is said to exact revenge by devouring the sun and moon.
* Dos And Don’ts During A Lunar Eclipse Dos :
- While the eclipse is taking place, one should sit in one place, chant the name of God and sing devotional songs.
- One should observe a waterless fast while the actual eclipse is in progress.
- One should take a bath with one’s clothes on immediately after the eclipse.
- One should get rid of extra cooked food after the solar or lunar eclipse.
* Don’ts :
- One should not eat food for at least an hour before the eclipse.
- In addition, one should not offer meals to God during this pre-eclipse period.
- One should not touch anything such as clothes, food, personal items, etc. during the eclipse.
- After the eclipse is over, one should not touch anyone and take a bath with one’s clothes on. If one has touched anything by mistake, it should be purified by washing or by sprinkling water over it.