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Hindus(mostly Brahmins) usually don't eat, go outside, don't touch any clothes during eclipses. After eclipse, they take bath.

Now, my questions are:

  • Which scripture says so?
  • What is the reason behind such practices?
  • Are these practices mandatory?
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Some rules are mandatory if the eclipse is going to be visible. If it is not visible in the given region then there is no need to follow rules. Texts like Dharma sindhu etc. talk in detail about eclipses and do's and don'ts In general, activities like sacred bathing, charity, reciting mantras etc. is considered good and it is believed to give manifold results.

Grahana Nirnaya:

As long as one could vision Chandra and Surya Grahanaas (Eclipses), one would reckon as the Punya Kaala or the auspicious time. Even if the Grahana were not visible due to the obstruction of clouds or so, even then on the basis of the information available as per the calculation of Shastraasabout the Sparsha( beginning) and Moksha (end), one should observe the required Snaana-Daanaas. Surya Grahana on Sundays and Chandra Grahana on Mondays are called Chudaamani and Daanaadi Karyaas bestow endless Punya. One should take bath for Baahyaantara Shuchi or external and internal cleanliness as soon as the Grahana Sparsha or the First Touch; during the course of the Grahana, one should perform Homa-Devarchana-and Shraaddha. When Grahana is receding, then Daanaas are required to be executed and at the time of Moksha, one should take bath once again; the bath at the Sparsha Kaala and Moksha Kaala are of distinct waters; the Mukti Snaana is defined as follows: Sheetamushnodakaat punyamapaarakyam parodakaat, Bhumishthamudhrataa punyam tata prasravanodakam/ Tatopisaara sampunyam tatah punyam Nadi jalam, Tatastirthanadi Gangaa Punyaa punyastombhudhi/ (Cold water bath is more propitious than with hot water; better bathe with ones own water; fresh water from the depths of Bhumi is better from well water exposed and stored; water from a flowing water is better than in a waterbody; Tirtha water like Ganga is better than that of a from a river; and bathing in Samudra water is by far better than even a river like Ganges!). Grahana Snaana should be with the same clothing as during the Grahana and then only the bath would be stated as Mukti Snaana; that bath need not be by reciting Mantras.

Describing the effectiveness of Daana, it is stated: Samanu -braahmaney daanam dwigunam Braahmanbruvey, Shrotriye shata saahasram paatrey chaanantya mashnutey/( Offering greetings / namaskaaraas to a Brahmana by birth might be misplaced but providing charity to a Dwija or twice-born who has the qualification of Samskaaraas like Upanayana or thread marriage and Gayatri Mantra secures better Punya; a Brahmana who has the Samskaaras but devoi d of Vedaadhyayana is called a Brahmanabruva but still charity to him would be worthy of hundred times more; charity to a well read Brahmana Srotriya or he who follows the Brahmana Dharmaas in full spirit and practice would fetch Ananta Punya). Grahana Shraadha should be done with suitable Dakshina and possibly with Ghrita yukta bhojana followed by Mantra Punascharana; the relevant Mantra states: Chandra Suryoparaagey cha snaatwaa purvamuposhitah, Sparshaadi Moksha paryantam Japenmantram samaahitah, Japaadashaam shato homastathatha homaaccha tappanam, Homaashaktou japamkuryaatdhoma sankhyaa chaturgunam/ (One should discard bhojana well before the Grahana , take bath at the Sparsha or touch of the Grahana and its Moksha or termination and perform Japa althrough the Grahana Kaala.

Do's and Don'ts at the Grahana Kaala:

Sleeping during the time of Eclipse leads to illnesses. Passing urine ends up in poverty and bad luck. Easing the stomach (Stools) leads to the life of krimis(worms) in the following birth. Maithuna(intercourse) lands up as a pig in the next birth. Head bath during the Eclipse period leads a person to leprosy and Bhojana in the time paves way to naraka. Eating the remnants of bhojana cooked before or during the Grahana Kaala is prohibited as would lead to stomach and digestive problems and similarly drinking even water would tell upon the system. However,the carry forward storage of curd, milk, butter, ghee, unused oil and such other uncooked stocks might be consumed after the Grahana but should be duly covered by Dharbha Khandaas (kushaa grass) as would be proteceted by the rays of Sun or Moon in grahana. Garbha Stress women during conception ought to protect themselves from the fall of the rays as there had been several evidences of the babies born thereafter suffering from physical deformities.

[Narada Purana describes as to how Chandra-Surya Grahanaas take place; the Essence of the relevant Chapter on Grahanaas in brief is as follows: Chandra Grahana (Lunar Eclipse) takes place on a Pournami and Surya Grahana (Solar Eclipse) on Amavasya and these are called Parvas. As Grahas rotate on their own axis and perform Pradakshina (circumambulation) around Bhumi, that path is known as the Kasksha or region of that Graha. Prithvi is far away from the Sun path and Chandra is nearer and is in between Surya and Prithvi. In the direction in which Surya travels, the shadow of Prithvi falls in the opposite direction of Surya's path and the length of the rotating shadow is equal to that distance. As Prithi is round, the shadow of Chandra is also rounding, moving six Rashis away from Surya. Chandra rotatating on its own axis moves along with Surya on the Southern Rekha (Line) and that time is known as Darshanta Kaala ie at the junction of the termination of Amavasya and the beginning of Shukla Pratipada; similarly, when Surya reaches six Rashis ahead that time is Pournima.

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