CHENNAI: The countdown to witness a rear, partial lunar eclipse, which will be seen in most parts of the world including India, began on Tuesday evening.
The ‘Chandra Grahan’, particularly in the Indian context is not just an astronomical-celestial event but is also invested with religious significance as this year the partial eclipse has virtually coincided with the ‘Pournami’ (full moon day). This is happening for the first time after 149 years and coincides with ‘Guru Purnima’, to make it equally significant for both Hindus and Buddhists.
Scientists tell us that a ‘solar eclipse’ usually occurs during a New Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, while a ‘lunar eclipse’- a phenomenon which happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are virtually on a straight line that the Earth’s shadow is cast on the moon-, occurs two weeks before or after during a ‘Full Moon’. (One Lunar day is equivalent to 14 days on Earth). But interestingly, this time the ‘Lunar Eclipse’ is from the Earth’s inhabitants’ point of view, virtually co-extensive with the ‘Full Moon’ day.
Though it is not a total eclipse, for the above mentioned reason, traditional pundits and astrologers invest this partial lunar eclipse with additional religious significance. In India, the ‘Penumbral eclipse’ begins shortly after midnight of July 16, i.e. 0013 hrs on Wednesday July 17. The ‘Partial eclipse’ begins at 1-31 am on Wednesday-, the phase when the “moon begins to get red”, as scientists say.
The maximum eclipse can be seen at 3 am on Wednesday, the phase when the moon is closest to the centre of the Earth’s shadow and the partial moon eclipse ends at 4-29 am on Wednesday. The Earth’s penumbra ends at 5-47 am.
The Kanchi Kamamoti Mutt, like other religious mutts in the country, has put out a set of dos’ and don’ts for people to be observed during the partial lunar eclipse.
For normal, healthy people the mutt has advised that people should complete their ‘Bhojan’ (food) for the day by 3 pm on Tuesday. As people born under the stars of ‘Uthiram’, ‘Uthiraadam’, ‘Karthigai’, ‘Pooradam’ and ‘Sravanam’ are prone to catching the ill-effects of this partial lunar eclipse (dosha), they have been advised to perform special rituals to get over the possible defects.
Taking a bath is a must for all when the partial lunar eclipse ends at 4-29 am, ‘Moksha Snanam’ as the Kanchi Mutt says.
This is notwithstanding the fact that Chennai and other parts of the state is going through an acute water scarcity. Preferably, it is advisable to keep awake during the eclipse period, oil baths should be avoided and couples should be austere. Pregnant women are not advised to see any eclipse, solar or lunar.
Usually all the temples in Tamil Nadu are kept closed during any eclipse period and no ‘darshan’ is allowed, except at the magnificent Lord Shiva temple at Tiruvarur, where the Lord himself takes upon the ‘doshas’ of his subjects.
However, as this partial lunar eclipse occurs during the early hours of Wednesday when most of the temples are anyway kept closed for ‘Darshan’, there is nothing to worry on that count. The Sri Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati was closed for ‘darshan’ well in advance on Tuesday evening itself. Early morning ‘Poojas’ will commence after ‘suddhi’ (purification) rituals are performed in all the temples.
For star gazers it will be an amazing cosmological event to watch over the night sky and scientists say the lunar eclipse can be seen with naked eyes
without having to fear any radiation effects.