New Delhi: The world is about to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of this century on July 27, 2018. Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse, referred to as Chandra Grahan and Surya Grahan respectively, hold special significance in the Hindu calendar. They are not mere changes in the positions of the celestial bodies but have profound religious meanings too.
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth blocks direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth's atmosphere. This light appears reddish. And that is why it's also known as the blood moon.
There are several myths associated with the eclipse across the globe as different cultures allude it with omens whether positive or negative. For the Egyptians, the eclipse serves as a sow swallowing the moon for a brief time. In other cultures, the eclipse is seen as the moon being swallowed by other animals, such as a jaguar in Mayan tradition, or a three-legged toad in China.
A few believed that it was a demon swallowing the moon and that it could be chased by throwing stones and hurling curses at it. However, the Greeks believed in the scientific understanding of the eclipse and how the Moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow.
In India, there are several myths associated with the eclipse. It is believed that after the Grahan is over, one should take a bath in the holy river Ganges and change to new clothes. Taking a dip in holy water will lead to salvation or moksha, some believe.
Also, preparation of food or eating is prohibited during the Grahan. Commencing any auspicious task is avoided by many as well. Especially, pregnant women are asked to stay indoors and chant the Santana Gopala Mantra.
Total lunar eclipse will be on the intervening night of July 27 and 28 with a duration of 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest total lunar eclipse of this century. The Penumbral Eclipse begins at 22.44 PM IST on July 27.