Marking the start of the wild strawberry season, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and South America will be playing host to the second penumbral lunar eclipse of 2020. Between 11.15 PM to 2.43 AM IST on June 5 (tonight), people can witness the celestial event during which the Sun, Earth and Moon will be imperfectly aligned causing the Earth to cast its shadow on the surface of the moon and effectively blocking some of the Sun’s rays. This type of eclipse is called a ‘Total Penumbral Eclipse’. During this type of eclipse, the moon is only overshadowed by the outer region of the Earth – the ‘penumbra’, which does not shroud the moon completely in darkness.
Considering the celestial nature of this occurrence, we often witness the rise of superstition and myths surrounding the ‘Chandra Grahan’ or lunar eclipse, but not all of them can be termed scientific. The first documentation of an eclipse goes back to the 1400/1700 BC in Hindu literature. The Lunar eclipse is caused by the southern node of the moon ‘Ketu’. The auspiciousness that is often coupled with a lunar eclipse comes from the study of planetary influence over human life. Though scientific backing is lacking in this instance, here are some suggestions that you can follow if so inclined:
· Pregnant women are considered more susceptible to the negative influence of the eclipse and should not expose themselves to it.
· Fasting and bathing before and after the eclipse is suggested.
· The lunar eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye without any damage.
· The eclipse is considered a good time to wash away sins, as all water becomes holy during the period.
It is a common belief that eclipses affect the health of pregnant women and that of the child in the womb. Lunar eclipses are referred to as bad omens by many cultures, including many Indian ones. The superstition remains deeply rooted even today although most of these conceptions are not backed by science. Here are some misconceptions that can do more harm than good:
· Do not eat during the eclipse: While there is no evidence to prove that food goes bad during the time of the eclipse, in the case of a pregnant woman, not eating or drinking for an extended period can cause low blood sugar which can harm both mother and baby.
· Covering all the windows: This makes sense during a solar eclipse as the UV rays can harm the eyes and even result in blindness, but this is not the case for a Lunar eclipse. You can look directly at the eclipse without any repercussions.
· Do not go outside or do anything: Pregnant women are advised to rest for 4 to 5 hours every day but there is nothing that proves going outside during the eclipse will cause any harm.