Bangalore, Jan 2010
Hundreds of young Indians in this IT capital defied superstition and treated themselves to a sumptuous lunch during the millennium’s longest annular eclipse.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium (JNP) in downtown, which was a beehive of activity during the four-hour celestial act, not only hosted a free lunch for about 200 volunteers, but also allowed supply of snacks and tea to the public that thronged its campus to watch the event.
“We have not restricted anyone from taking food in the campus. On the contrary, we arranged lunch for volunteers and our staff to demonstrate that there was no scientific basis for not eating during the eclipse,” JNP senior director C.S. Shukre told.
Though eatables were not allowed inside the planetarium, a majority in the crowd, especially students of schools and colleges, mocked at the older and the conservatives for perpetuating the myth that consuming food during solar or lunar eclipse was bad for health and their future.
“What has eclipse got to do with eating food or other daily habits? It’s all humbug spread by ignorant and blind believers. Am shocked to know that even the educated are not free from such superstition,” lamented H. Gopal (25), an engineering graduate who came to the planetarium to watch the event.
Echoing Gopal, Kavyashree and Anusha, science under-graduates from MES and KLE colleges in the city, said they too didn’t believe in the myth and were happy to join their friends at lunch even as the moon was gobbling the sun in the distant sky.
“We don’t believe in superstitions. Luckily, our parents don’t force us to accept such myths. We had snacks and tea soon after the eclipse began around 11.25 a.m., as we have been in the ground since 10 a.m. to help people watch the event using telescopes and welder glasses,” Anusha said.
Explaining the natural phenomenon of solar eclipse when moon’s shadow falls on a part of the earth while in alignment with the sun, Shukre said he had no clue about the origin of the superstitious belief that eating, coming out of house or doing anything good during the eclipse was bad.
“The eclipse phenomenon has been occurring since time immemorial. There are at least two solar eclipses in a year on the earth. This apart, seven more eclipses, which are a mix of solar and lunar, take place in a year depending on the alignment of moon and earth with the sun in the centre,” Shurke pointed out.
The elliptical rotation of the earth around the sun and that of moon around earth also determine when and where the eclipses occur, which is a scientific event and has nothing to do with human beliefs.
In advanced countries like the US, people don’t even bother about the eclipses and do not link them to their lifestyle.
To disprove the belief as superstitious and irrational, Bharat Gyan Vijnan Samiti, a science forum, served ‘pongal’ (sweet rice) to people at a school ground in north Bangalore.
Similarly, a feisty lunch was arranged to devotees in a temple premises in the northern suburb of the city.
More at : Indian youth defy superstition, eat during eclipse http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/sci-tech/india…