New Delhi: There are several myths surrounding eclipses. While doctors advise not to look at the Sun directly for even a little period without proper protection, even when 99 per cent of the surface is covered by the moon, there are other dos and dont’s regarding whether to take food or not etc. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the Sun for a viewer on Earth.

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha recommends the following do’s and dont’s during a lunar eclipse:

One should not eat 12 hours before the solar eclipse begins. One can drink water.

In addition, one should not offer meals to God during this pre-eclipse period. However, one is allowed to perform arti, pray and sing devotional songs during this period.

There may be times when the solar eclipse occurs before sunrise. Therefore one may see the eclipse only after the sun has risen. In this case, one should not eat after sunset the previous night.

During the eclipse:

While the eclipse is taking place one should sit in one place, chant the name of God and sing devotional songs. One should observe a waterless fast while the actual eclipse is in progress.

After the eclipse:

One should take a bath with one’s clothes on immediately after the eclipse.
It is best to take a bath in cold water after the eclipse is over.
The Satsangijivan, written by Shatãnand Muni, states that after one purifies oneself, one should offer donations according to one’s income. If donations are offered with love and devotion, one will receive appropriate returns as stated in the scriptures.

Why should one take a bath after an eclipse?

One should take a bath after an eclipse because it is believed that the earth is plunged into darkness during a lunar or solar eclipse, the BAPS says. Darkness symbolizes impurity and therefore one has to sit in one place and chant the name of God. Once the eclipse is over, light returns back to the earth; and to rejoice, one has to cleanse the impurity that darkness brought, worship God and offer donations to express one’s happiness. In the same way, we are all engulfed by an eclipse in the form of mãyã. So, just as one does for an eclipse, one should pray to God in order to overcome the force of mãyã, it says.

On December 26, partial phases of the solar eclipse will be visible from all over the country in varying magnitude depending upon the geographical position.  Aluminised mylar films of approved thickness and transmissivity coated with black polymer are the safest for use in solar goggles that one generally uses for eclipse viewing. Use of unsafe filters like smoked glass, polarizing filter, sunglasses, photographic neutral density filters, colour films are not advised to view the solar phenomenon.

Thursday’s eclipse will be visible in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Population centres in the path of the annularity include Udhagamandalam, Kozhikode, Coimbatore, Jaffna, Trincomalee, Singapore, Singkawang and Guam, Duari said. In India, the annularity phases will be seen within a narrow path grazing the southern Indian peninsula through Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu before crossing the Bay of Bengal for northern Sri Lanka.

The people of the southern part of the country will be fortunate to see a greater part of the partial solar eclipse because of the geometry of the eclipse path. But every Indian will get an opportunity to see at least a partial eclipse.

In India the maximum duration of the annularity phases will be just over 3 minutes, he said.

The beginning of the eclipse can be first seen from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman at around 7:59 hours IST and the annular eclipse will become first visible in west of Baharain at 09:06 hours IST.

(With PTI inputs)