Should Eclipses Eclipse Our Clean Stream Of Reason ?

By: Barnali Bose ( Sr. Associate Editor-ICN Group )

KOLKATA: The other day I met a friend after what seemed to be ages.“What is the matter you seem to be seen once in a blue moon?”,said I. Both of us fell silent for a moment and as the implication of the idiomatic phrase dawned upon us,we burst into laughter.Last month, skywatchers and enthusiasts waited eagerly to catch a glimpse of the Supermoon as it passed through the earth’s shadow for the second time in January 2018.

Nasa accorded itthe nomenclature “Super Blue Blood Moon.”Since time immemorial,Man has been witness to the bizarre phenomena of the Solar and Lunar eclipses. It was his awe andfear for the various forces of nature that made man worship its various forms.

Hindu Mythology is replete with stories of Surya dev,the Sun God and Indra dev,the Rain God,among others. Eclipse or ‘grahan’ is a metaphor not only for misfortunes that befall one’s life but also the dark cloud that envelops ourreasoning power. Even in this scientific and technological era,during an eclipse not only is the moon or sun eclipsed but scientific reasoning very often is.

My experiences with eclipses:

“Tomorrow,there is a solar eclipse,” announced Granny. “Oh! No,not again,” was my instinctive response.I remember as achild,eclipse was a word that we verily dreaded and rightly so.There were too many do’s and don’ts to abide by. “ Don’t drinkwater till the “grahan ‘ is over,my grandmother would grimly state. “…..and what if I am hungry?”, I would ask to which she retorted,“ No food no water.”and obviously“no arguing”,which though left unsaid was obvious.

Before the eclipse commenced,we were made to eat to our fulland drink enough water.Tulsi leaves would be scattered on thestored water.Extra food,if any was literally thrown away.Eventhe street dogs were not allowed to partake it as it was consideredpoisonous and thus inedible.We had to accept confinement with our grandmother keeping an eagle’s eye over us.What if we munched a biscuit on the sly?

Having a very inquisitive bent of mind,I flooded her with a volley of questions to which she simply said, “Do as I tell you.”It reminded me of the poem The Charge of the light Brigade.The words“There’s not to question why,There’s but to do and die ….”echoed in my ears. In this case we were not to question why (because as my mother said, “Granny knows best”) but to die of thirst and hunger.I do not know about others but somehow I noticed that I was always inexplicably hungrier than usual. It is perhaps human psychology that one always wishes to ‘taste the forbidden fruit’.

However when the sun or the moon had emerged from its captivity,we had to cleanse ourselves with a refreshing bath.Needless to say my mother was made to sprinkle holy Ganga water in every nook and corner of the house .We too were not spared. Years passed by but time had not waned the superstitions deeply embedded in my granny. I was then already a married womanand expecting my first child .

It was a lunar eclipse and I still remember the ordeal I had to go through. Besides being instructed not to eat or drink,I was made to lie down on my back for the entire period and sternly warned not to touch any sharp object specially not to cut anything with a knife or scissors. “If you cut anything with scissors your baby will be born cleft-lipped,” I was warned. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown that cast a shadow on my reasoning and I,usually a rebel,quietly did as told.

( To Be Continued…)

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