Sunday, January 17, 2010


Did you watch the eclipse? I did! It was beautiful. I have never seen the sun eclipsed so much (with my own eyes - from behind sun filters!). As Puttachi said, it looked like a "'C' in the sky."

What saddened me no end was that Puttachi and I were the only ones on our terrace, apart from another mother-daughter pair on the terrace of a neighbouring block. Out of the entire neighbourhood, only the four of us were eager enough to catch this fascinating event.

The rest, I am guessing, more out of false beliefs than out of disinterest, stayed inside.

I don't get it. Our ancestors didn't know what was happening. They had reason to believe that something evil was happening. But we are in 2010, for heavens' sake! We've been to the moon, we've been to space, we've photographed things from space - we know what is happening! Just that the moon has come between the earth and the sun! So why the fear? Why the fasting? Why the bathing? I am trying so hard to keep myself calm here, but indulge me a bit while I scream - IT IS RIDICULOUS!!!!

Puttachi and I went out into the eclipsed sun's rays, we ate during the eclipse, and we did not bathe after the eclipse, we did not offer prayers to propitiate anybody. And I am living, and hale and hearty, and writing this post. And this is not just us, everybody in my family has sat and eaten through a countless eclipses over the last 6 or 7 decades. Two of my aunts have gone out during eclipses when they were pregnant, and they have strong, healthy, intelligent sons.

What further proof can I give you? What else can I say? I know that there are some people who are "careful", you know, "Just in case". But think. The sun's rays are coming onto you. The moon blocks the rays for a while, and then moves away. What can possibly be the harm? It makes me want to cry.

Many people are trying to eradicate these silly superstitions, but is it really working? Rationalists do it, yes. But look at this. During the last eclipse, the seer of Murugarajendra Mutt of Chitradurga sat outside with his followers, and watched the eclipse, and even served food to them, and ate it himself, during the eclipse. (can't find the link to the report). During this eclipse, a couple got married at his Mutt!

I am your fan, Seer of Murugarajendra Mutt! We need more people like you! If people don't want to believe rationalists and scientists, at least I hope they will believe you spiritual leaders!

If you know Kannada, you might like to read this.

This post is too late for this eclipse, so I'll probably re-post it before the next eclipse. Please, people! Wake up and see the eclipse for what it really is!


Radhika said...

Shruti, wish you had given this idea of watching the eclipse via the sieve few days before the eclipse . Nice photo.
I just used a tissue paper with a hole in it to see the eclipse in office. And my niece and daughter did the same at home.
It's surprising, people who have studied science believing that eclipse can cause havoc in life.
Certainly, schools and religious leaders can bring about a change.
In our office of almost 2000 people, hardly 300 people came to office, and those who did come, about only 50 of them were seen in the cafeteria during lunch time.
Wonder how we can change this at all.

Mumbai Paused said...

Love the photo. The sunlight filtering through the tree leaves also formed crescents. You lucky people in Bangalore had a better view!

sandeep said...

I did have my lunch during eclipse and so did everybody else at home :) and spent the rest of the time during the eclipse, photographing it! luved ur image as well.

Unfortunately, it'll take more years to erase all these superstitions!

raghunandan said...

nice post and good article from shri Nagesh hegde.
had our TV channels remained silent, the eclipse would have been harmless and H1N1 virus quite mild.

deepa said...

hi Shruthi,
Indeed a great move - to get this article published in Bangalore Mirror. More and more people should come forward to eradicate the superstitions and I am happy that you did so.
I watched the eclipse for the first time in my life and had double lunch that day !

Frnz - spread the word around and educate people.

Thank you .

Ananth said...

nice post...but i dont see why other people's beliefs frustrate you so much?

if people do not want to watch the eclipse, let them not. just leave them alone!

i respect your views, but what I dont like is the way almost all "rationalists" try to impose or thrust their viewpoint on others. If a person feels safer and more at peace in his mind by not watching the eclipse or going out during the eclipse, then why not do just that and be happy about it?

please lets not be arrogant enough to suggest that everyone must and should be looking at the world the way we see it....

one other point i would like to make is about how wrong you are about the eclipse just being all about the moon blocking out the sun. there is actually a lot more to it. apparently this shadow cast on the earth causes a variety of changes in the earth's atmosphere and we have yet grasp the effects of these changes fully. why else do you think isro launched rockets to study the eclipse? (see:

finally, you are also wrong about our ancestors knowing nothing about the eclipse and the roles of the sun and the moon in it. how else do you think they have been successful at predicting impending eclipses with pinpoint accuracy way into the future? the tales about rahu and ketu causing the eclipses etc is just for the consumption of the masses so they would take appropriate care.

again, im not trying to fuel an argument here. as i said, i respect your views. just pointing out certain loopholes that you may want to take a look at. cheers!

anoop said...

shruthi, good shot of the tiny C's. I watched the eclipse from my canteen window. I didn't see people postponing lunch at office, but people did have general apathy towards the eclipse.

@ananth: I don't think it's the beliefs (of the non-eclipse watchers) which are frustrating shruthi, or anyone else who think along similar lines. It's the 'blindly following' attitude of these people. It's the attitude which makes people follow (without questioning) the rules set forth by someone else hundreds of years back. And of course, the standard answer by these people would be, 'our ancestors were smart, so we have to follow!'. Sorry, I'm not mridiculing you or our ancestors. I do respect them and do believe that they were really smart. But that doesn't stop me from questioning them, or their rules. Our ancestor's rules were pertinent and perfectly applicable to a different age. Its time that we carried ahead whatever is relevant and applicable to our times. This can only be done by questioning!
you mentioned about isro launching rockets to study the eclipse; there are climatic/atmospheric changes, the real extent of which is still to be studied. Agreed. But, how is this related to Eclipse being harmful to human beings or life in general. Thanks.

Anu said...

Thanks to those of you who find others' ignorance distressing. A generation or two ago, if scientists had 'respected our belief' that Mariamma could cure small pox and plague and let us alone, half of us would not be here discussing this.

Our ancestors - five thousand years ago - did not know the true nature of the eclipse and they could have been scared. Our ancestors, at least the scientists among them -thousand five hundred years ago -knew. They saw the pattern in the time of occurrence of eclipses and were able to predict future ones. The common people perhaps remained ignorant. Now the hope is that those of us who have received primary education, won't be.

padma said...

Good article. Then why are we not supposed to see the sun directly during eclipse? (Even doctors and scientists are advising this)

deepa said...

Hi again,
Its not that we are trying to impose our views on the others and neither we tolerate others imposing theirs on us. Let everybody do what they feel comfortable about. But when I know that it is blind practices which people follow blindly ( as told by Anoop )without knowing the reason behind that, I feel frustrsted, really frustrated.

Padma - we are not supposed to see the sun directly any day,leave alone the day of eclipse. The sun's radiations are too bright that it may burn your retina.
On normal days you will not be able to see the sun because of its glare. But during and eclipse, the glare/brightness is a little less which makes possible for us to see the sun. Thats why they insist not to see the sun.

And people like to do what is told not to do. So the practices of keeping them indoors has arised.
Or you may be tempted/curious and just lift your head up and keep on staring, hence they have made it compuslory to sit indoors and other restrictions follow.

starry eyed said...

I wanted to slap all the naysayers ever since I first heard this nonsense 12 years ago when I first moved to Blr. Crap, all of it, they prevent pregnant women and children from eating, I call it cruelty.

That said, I was terribly nervous about looking directly at the eclipse with the solar goggles, esp becoz of the kids, scared if the quality was good or not. But finally I did it, and almost fainted in delight, it was SO MIRACULOUS and NEAT! Immediately got my kids one by one, and they gasped with happiness too and talked about it for the next 2 days! And we enjoyed the strange looking shadows and dimming of the light. Exotic experience.

And happy to read about that seer. Loved the pic too! And we invited a dear friend for lunch and ate with a vengeance and fed the kids at the very peak of the exclipse!!!

Anonymous said...

I loved the way people in India react to it Solar or Lunar. I wish we had more such eclipses every two to three months. There is more benefit to the humanity and the earth.
Think of all the traffic, less pollution, people stay at home, spend more time with their loved ones. Give some break to their gastronomical appetite for junk food(good for health), reduction of stress levels...some time to recuperate the constant loss of life's vitality...
Encourage people to go for it and it is fun....
PS: BTW, please don't be 'selective' in your rational behavior. Life is not that some level, even science becomes a belief system....
And, for your information, it never even occurred to me that we are supposed to 'fast' on the day of eclipse. I wish I that I could have been more healthier....
Don't eclipse your mind with the debate on eclipse...enjoy life and go with the has its own flow and it's a leveling force which will do its job no matter how we look at it and our ancestors knew about it. Hence all the so called 'belief' system that we have....may not be rational, and many things in life are not, but they have their usefulness. In the West, we call it Psychotherapy....

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and I totally agree with your view point.

But shall we be honest? Has any of us who are so frustrated, followed any rituals at all [ignorant, unscientific or otherwise} in their lives? say some kind of homa or pooja during their own weddings because it is " convenient" to do that?

do we really have a right to react so strongly? who draws the line anyway?

Ananth said...

loved reading those two anonymous comments above mine.

you can debate for hours on beliefs, attitudes, superstitions, science et al. but im sure u'll agree with me when I say that what matters ultimately is how happy you are doing what you are doing as long as it doesn't harm others.
(and as the 1st anon comment said, the 'myths' associated with the eclipse actually did do a lot of good than bad)

plus i really don't know if 'blind faith' is all that bad as it is made out to be. I mean, we actually know zilch about the universe, right? and any scientist worth his salt will tell you just that. so why pretend to have unraveled the mysteries of nature and go about theorizing rather than just putting your trust in the people that you know mean good for you and following them blindly as long as no harm is caused? why tie our heads in knots about things that are beyond our comprehension?

blind faith keeps things easier and simpler and allows you to concentrate your efforts on things that have more of a direct impact on your life.

Mangala said...

Great comments above, mature, humble and thought-provoking. You have great readership, Shruthi. Here's an attempt on my blog to set the record straight for a much-kicked underdog, from what little I have gleaned on the topic:

Anonymous said...

Let us not let the " more ratinal than thou" attitude to take over us... a la " holier than thou" could be as much a snobbery as the other...

let us cringe being judgemental...

beautiful photograph.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself why our ancestors worshiped the giant star 'Sun'...Was it because they knew that all the basic elements that we have in the periodic table including oxygen was discharged by stars like 'Sun'? I wonder! Astronomers and Physicists say they do....How funny to hear that our ancestors were 'stupid' enough to 'worship' an inanimate object in the far off sky....blind belief? may be.... some food for thought!

$$ said...

Interesting post!:)

If you think Indians are the most superstitious, you are probably wrong! Look at what the Californians used to believe:

"The Moon is a man who has twenty wives and a house full of pets consisting of mountain lions, bears and snakes. To feed his pets, the man goes out to hunt. After the hunt he carries all the game back to his house for his pets, but they are not satisfied with what he has brought them. In anger, the pets attack the man, who begins to bleed. This is represented by the Moon turning a reddish colour during a lunar eclipse. One of the Moon's wives is Frog and when she sees the predicament her husband is in, she rushes to help him. Frog beats away the pets. Then she and the other wives collected the Moon's blood and he thus recovered"

Isn't it hilarious???

Cheers! :)

Maitreya said...

Nice one..! sadly i and my brother were the only ones in our road who watched it live! see our pics in my picasa album.. We took it with an x-ray film in front of the camera.. :)

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