Tirumala: We have often noticed that all Hindu places of worship remain closed and no rituals are performed whenever there is an eclipse.Also Read - Total Solar Eclipse 2019: Precautions, Do's And Don'ts That Need to be Taken Care of During Surya Grahan

For the very same reason, the temple of Lord Venkateswara in Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala will remain closed for nearly 13 hours on December 26 as the complete solar eclipse would start at 8.08 AM and would end by 11:16 AM. Also Read - Total Solar Eclipse 2019: Know Date, Timings, Where And How to Witness it

A statement from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) says that as per tradition, the temple will be shut from 11 PM on December 25 and will be reopened at 12 PM on December 26 for the mandatory purification ceremony. Devotees will only be allowed into the temple from 2 PM onwards for darshan. Also Read - Partial Solar Eclipse 2019: Precautions, Myths, Do's And Don'ts And All You Need to Know About First Surya Grahan of 2019

“The devotees are requested to make a note of these changes and plan their pilgrimage accordingly,” the TTD said. Not just the Tirumala, the Sabarimala temple would be shut on the eclipse day too.

What happens during an Eclipse and why are Hindu temples shut?

For some people, Eclipses are rare astronomical events and spectacular sights to behold, however Hindu texts say the opposite. Eclipse, either lunar or solar, is regarded as impure and as per Hindu texts and scripture, the heavenly bodies, especially the Sun and the Moon release abnormal negative energy during that period.

That’s the reason why shutting down Hindu temples on the days of eclipse, is a fairly common practice which has continued since time immemorial.

To understand further, it is important to know what a Eclipse is? To put it simply, Eclipse is an event when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured and is of two types. Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth and blocks Sun from Earth and the Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned.

So, in the case of a Solar Eclipse, there is a reduction in the sunlight and magnetic energy from the sun whereas in Lunar Eclipse, the Moon’s gravitational pull changes because of the alignment.

It is believed that there is an increase in negative energy during an Eclipse

Our scriptures, therefore are of the belief, that these significant changes increases the negative energy in the atmosphere which is bad for the inhabitants of Earth. Whenever a devotee comes to visit a temple, he/she should feel peace and tranquility and should not be exposed to abnormal energies.

That’s the reason why temples are purified to ensure that the deities installed there too, don’t absorb any of the negative energies. Some scriptures, as per priests, also say it is inauspicious to invoke the deities during Eclipse because the shadow on the sun depletes psychological strength.

Tulsi is placed in the temple to ward off negative energies

Many temples place Tulsi leaves on the idols to cover them against the negative energy as it is believed that the leaves have the capacity to absorb harmful radiations. People regard Tulsi as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, who was a great worshipper of the Lord Vishnu.

At some other temples in South India, the idols and sanctums are covered by organic material like grass, neem leaves or raw silk shroud to prevent the natural aura from being destroyed.

The temple gates open only after proper rituals and cleaning is performed.

There’s an exception too

While all temples in India diligently follow the tradition, Kalahasteeswara Temple in Sri Kalahasthi is the only temple not closed during an eclipse. The reason is that it’s the only temple in India which offers pooja and prayers to Rahu and Ketu, thus, it is believed that it is not affected by an Eclipse.