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Natural phenomenon eclipse, adopt by tough rituals in Nepal

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 22, 2009

KATHMANDU: Being unaware of the fact that solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon, Nepali people perform toughest rituals regarding religious beliefs.

It is prohibited to eat anything before 12 hours of solar eclipse and until it passes. One should not go for toilet nor can spit. To sleep, to shower and to walk outside during solar eclipse is strictly against the Hindu religion.

“Now, I’ve had rice, 12 hours before that and I cannot eat until the Sun gets free from this suffering,” said Rama Thapaliya who is 56 years old house wife, on Tuesday afternoon.

According to her, one has to keep on praying god until eclipse. “It is better to douse oneself into Holy River while chanting prayer for god,” she added.

Not only house wives like Thapaliya who hardly can read perform such rituals triggered by Hindu religion, but almost all follow the rituals. Some even tend to close themselves inside the light tight room to be safe from sun rays during the eclipse.

The Nepali government has announced a public holiday on this very day on Wednesday, which is the best paragon of oblivious of natural occurrence, some local experts said.

The Home Ministry, in a press release, said holiday has been declared in offices nationwide and diplomatic missions stationed worldwide on Wednesday. The decision has been made as per the request of Panchanga Decision Committee, the government body to suggest on the official calendar and astrological issues.

In contrast to government’s step, some scientists have raised serious concern on such religious rituals which are scientifically not approved.

“There are no logical scientific reason to carry out all these rituals which are not more than religious beliefs and traditional trend. However, they emphasized to take precaution if any one wishes to view the eclipse.

“Eclipse should not be viewed with naked eyes. It is mandatory to use certified filters. The harmful rays can cause permanent and irreversible eye damage and possible blindness,” Jayanta Acharya, astronomer and lecturer at Balmiki Campus in Nepali capital Kathmandu told Xinhua.

He said that this total solar eclipse is especial as it becomes total darkness and occurs within a long span of time.

Experts have taken initiatives to aware general public about this natural occurrence stalling telescope at places where general public can make their approach to view such rare eclipse on the screen processed by experts with the help of telescope.

Sanat Kumar Sharma, Director of B.P. Koirala Memorial Planetarium, Observatory and Science Museum Development Board under government, said the board is showing general public whoever wishes to view eclipse in capital Kathmandu.

“This is the one small contribution to aware public that this is natural happenings which occurs rarely,” Sharma said, adding ” this is just the shade of the Moon over Sun which is viewed total form some parts of the world and partial form some parts.”

The total solar eclipse occurring on Wednesday will be seen from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China, etc. The solar eclipse would be the longest total eclipse in the century, which would not be surpassed in duration till June 13, 2132, said lecturer Acharya.

Acharaya said that Nepal is not only the country to follow such rituals in eclipse, since some communities in America and eastern Asia do have their own special functioning.

According to the Planetarium Board, the last total eclipse seen from Nepal was on January 22, 1898 and the next one will occur on May 14, 2124.



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