What’s so special about the upcoming eclipse and why is everyone talking about it?

It’s one of the first total solar eclipses to take place in the social media era. Usually total eclipses, which take place somewhere on the earth every 18 months, can best be observed from no man’s lands — either in the huge Pacific or the poles. 

What’s more is that while only a 70-mile wide swath of US land will witness the spectacle in its entirety, most of America coast-to-coast will get to see it at least partially by simply looking out of their windows. 

What about India you ask? We might not be able to view the eclipse live this time around but NASA will be broadcasting the entire event. 

But that doesn’t stop us from following our wild rituals that stem from bizarre legends and myths, irrespective of the eclipse’s visibility from the country. Here’s the dope:

Decapitated Rahu

During the dishing out of the Elixir (Amrit) by Vishnu in his Mohni avatar, Surya (Sun) and Chandra (Moon) realised that one of the demons seeking immortality Rahu had also obtained it. They soon got him beheaded but Rahu is believed to have remained alive.

The eclipses are thus said to be Rahu’s form of revenge on Surya and Chandra.

Shower with clothes on

Someone we know will await the awe-inspiring sight of the eclipse before he heads straight into the shower with his clothes on (or at least he’ll run them through laundry immediately). That’s another Hindu ritual to ‘purify’ the clothing that they watched this supposedly inauspicious cosmic event in.

Avoiding ‘toxic’ food

Many Indians will also fast on the day of a solar (or lunar) eclipse in fear of being poisoned by food cooked or processed during that time.

Revoking Muhammad’s Spirit

For followers of Islam, any eclipse coincides with the day that one of Prophet Muhammad’s sons passed was killed. Till today, many Muslims recite the same praters that were offered by their messenger on the occasion, back in the 7th Century AD.

Christ’s second coming

Many Christian leaders, even in India, believe that this eclipse is a sign that we’re living in the end times. Referring to some passages of the Bible, they also claim that Christ’s return is imminent.