Eclipsed in history

There are many gripping tales associated with the Blood Moon and the Black Sun
The six-hour lunar eclipse of July 27, the longest of the century, with a Blood Moon, and the brightest Mars in 15 years, whose viewing in Delhi was marred by a rainy sky, brought predictions of doom from soothsayers. They warned of long-lasting effects on the world and mankind, with pregnant women particularly being told not to see the rare celestial event, eat only raw food, vegetables and fruit and take purification baths to wash off the pollution caused by it. All this was dismissed by scientists as a lot of hogwash. But still eclipses, two of which occurred last month – the solar one that was not at all visible in India and the lunar event did cause a lot of excitement. Whatever the scientific explanation, it cannot be denied that eclipses do have a big psychological effect. Some years back a newly-married woman committed suicide in the Capital after her husband watched an eclipse while drinking at night despite her warning not to do so. An astrologer also ended his life after his prediction of impending doom did not come true and the police came to arrest him.
But somehow the story that the Sikhs and the forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali took fright on sighting the eclipse does not gel. Akbar had watched an eclipse and bathed at the Brahmsarovar in Kurukshetra 182 years earlier and did not suffer any consequences. The July 2018 eclipse too will pass off like that and (changing it a bit) Chesterton’s rhyme, about that Blood Moon when the first donkey was born and “fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon thorns” will remain as tantalising as an eclipse scenario, when some tend to behave like the braying beast of burden.
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