Battling eclipse-related superstitions
#1
Solar and lunar eclipses offer teachable moments both for astronomy aficionados who can win a great many recruits during outreach events and for debunkers to counter related superstitions especially about pregnancies. Here are some links bookmarked here for reference, so that we can handily point to these the next time someone insists on staying indoors during an eclipse.

This inspirational chapter from 1926 in the autobiography of Gora, shows the way.
Here is an excerpt:

Quote:On joining me, Saraswati left orthodox habits and adopted the atheist attitude. An incident was significant in this context. At Colombo she was pregnant with the first child. When she was carrying the fourth month, there was a solar eclipse in the afternoon. Hindu orthodoxy imposes the disciplines of silence and shutting up in a dark room for pregnant women at the time of any eclipse. Non compliance is threatened with mutilations of the child to be born. But Saraswati saw Buddhist, Moor and Burgher women freely moving about in the streets of Colombo, regardless of the time of the eclipse. Surely, some of these women must be pregnant too. If the evils of infringement were real, all pregnant women should be equally affected and their children should be maimed, irrespective of faiths. But that doesn’t happen. Therefore, the disciplines relating to eclipse are a superstition of Hindu faith. Thinking along these lines, Saraswati transgressed the taboos at the time of the eclipse. After the full period, the delivery was normal and the child also was normal. The experience equipped her with the credit to persuade other pregnant women to give up the superstition. We have nine children now. Both solar and lunar eclipses occurred at different periods of her pregnancies. Nothing untoward happened to us on account of the violations of restrictions imposed by custom on pregnant women during eclipses.

Here are reports of more recent outreach efforts by the Andhra-based Jana Vignana Vedika:
Sun plays hide and seek on eclipse day (The Hindu, January 16, 2010)
People witness last eclipse of 2011 (The Hindu, December 11, 2011)

Countering superstitions related to eclipses can help a great dealing in beginning a wider conversation exposing the baselessness of the astrological premise that planetary configurations influence human behavior.



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