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My Grandma and the Eclipse

When I was a child, my grandma looked after me. She is a typical Hindu woman with religious ideology and strong superstitious beliefs. She told us various stories. Her all the stories had the ultimate focus on God. Thus, we acquired strong faith upon God from her. Later when we went to school, those beliefs strongly contradicted with scientific beliefs. We were troubled when her story of the evolution of earth from the blood, flesh and bones of Madhu and Kaitab contrasted with that of the collision of the sun with a comet. We were astounded to know that the Human Beings were not the creation of Lord Vishnu but they evolved in earth as defined by Charles Darwin on his theory of Evolution of Life.

Most effective was her story on the solar eclipse. She always told us that the sun was a God. Once, the God had to ask for the husk from some Rahu or Ketu to protect rice from being eaten up by other creatures. And during eclipse, those evil sprits troubled the sun asking the return of the husk. Thus at the days of eclipse, whole village took bath at the river or taps and recited Mantras calling those evil sprits to release the sun soon. During the eclipse moment, they didn’t let us eat anything nor was anything prepared. They even forbade us from drinking water. It was at both the eclipse, lunar and solar. Thus we had to undergo hunger and thirst at the period of eclipse. So we too thought that the eclipse was due to the real evils.

Those ideas also contrasted with the science and we came to know that the eclipse was not due to evil spirit but due to the movements of the earth and the moon. We tried to convince our predecessors. They understood but denied to realize or abandon their faith upon God. And yet they continue taking bath and shouting the release of the Sun from the evil spirits during the eclipse.

Now, I am forced to recall those days. There was lunar eclipse that began at 23:30 on 7th September and continued till a few minutes the next day. At the dead of midnight, thousands of people thronged to Pashupati in Kathmandu or to the nearby river throughout the country to dip in the water so as to release the moon from the grips of evil sprits.

Our government is so much influenced by the conscience imparted by my grandma that it had announced public holiday on solar eclipse on October the 3rd last year and it has become the general practice as well. The motion of moon and earth or other planets does not defer as the pace of a marathoner. Nor the eclipses are any more caused by the evil spirits. The principles on the motion of earth are set since the time of Galileo and Copernicus. There has been much development on astronomy. However, many of the Nepalese have denied accepting the scientific facts and the government has been promoting such belief with public holidays. Public holidays are logical if the solar eclipse totally makes complete darkness on earth.

To my goodness, I have failed myself on bringing my grandma into confidence. Still my grandma might have been taking the bath and wishing for the release of the moon.