According to legend, during the Samudra manthan, the asura (demon incarnate) Rahu drank some of the divine nectar. Before the nectar could pass his throat, Mohini (the female avatar of Vishnu) cut off his head. The head, however, remained immortal. It is believed that this immortal head occasionally swallows the sun or the moon, causing eclipses. Then, the sun or moon passes through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.
Who can argue with that, right? What happens then during an eclipse even in modern homes in India is that people avoid eating during the eclipse, lie straight on the bed, don't move out of the house and some even take a dip in rivers after its over. Pregnant women are to follow this to a T and some husbands are forced to do it too!
Some other popular myths are:
- Mensturating women are regarded unclean and are isolated. They cannot enter the kitchen till they are ‘clean’ again.
- Pregnant women are not allowed to travel alone at night or enter an uninhabited home because ghosts might possess them. They should read religious books and watch inspiring movies so that the child grows up to be a good person.
- Hiccups indicate someone is thinking of you. But an itchy eye refers to someone maligning you, or your envy of someone.
- Nails should not be cut at night for fear of evil spirits.
- When there is a birth or death in the family, the members are unclean, and do not go to the temple till the stipulated period is over.
- Seeing an elephant during a journey is auspicious as Ganesha, the God who removes obstacles will ensure success.
- A dog howling at night chills the blood – a portent of approaching death.
- When leaving home, it is auspicious to see a bride, a Brahmin or an religious idol. However, sighting a widow or a barren woman is not lucky!
How much of it do you believe?