The partial lunar eclipse may spoil the New Year celebrations. The eclipse will begin at 12.22 am and end at 1.24am on January 1. As superstition calls for staying indoors and not eating or drinking during the eclipse, some may just sit at home welcoming 2010.
“Many families, especially those with expectant mothers, come to us asking questions like what is good and bad, what they should do and avoid, whether they can consume food during the eclipse,” said Prasad Joshi, a priest in a Dadar temple. “This year, I have recommended families to stay indoors, not consume any food during the time of the eclipse. Expectant mothers, senior citizens and families with children should refrain from eating after sunset.”
According to SK Bhat, a priest from Mahim, precaution is better than cure. There have been instances in the past where pregnant ladies indulging in activities like cutting, stitching, etc during the eclipse got babies with deformities like cleft lips or a deformed ear. “People must sit at home throughout the day and meditate and chant religious mantras to reduce the ill-effects of the eclipse,” said Bhat.
However, astronomers who are getting ready to study the exact positioning of the planets during the eclipse, have a different opinion. “2009 is the International Year of Astronomy as it coincides with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope by Galileo Galilei. It is simply movement of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon and has nothing to do with one’s destiny,” said DK Soman, amateur astronomer.
“Even today, people believe that during an eclipse Rahu and Ketu take charge of the universe and hence it is inauspicious. But this is absolutely untrue,” said Soman.
Talking about superstition, Narendra Dabholkar, chairman of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, said: “During the last eclipse, pregnant women from our Samiti along with some other women sat in open courtyards and chopped vegetables to show people that nothing adverse happens. Later, all these women delivered normal children.”
Dabholkar said people must not be scared and refrain themselves from doing anything. “I would not advocate people partying like crazy during the New Year’s eve. But eclipse must not be the reason for not enjoying,” he said.
But there are some who do not want to miss out on the enjoyment. Satyajeet Sarang of a leading Indian Insurance company said: “I will definitely party as I do not have any superstition.”