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After the churning of the ocean by the Deva (Gods) and Daitya (demons), Amrut - immortalizing the nectar - was produced. It so happened that the demons got the nectar first, but the Deva created an Apsarã (a beautiful celestial woman) called Mohini. She tricked the demons and took the nectar away from them. Once the Deva received the Amrut, they asked God to distribute the Amrut to all the gods equally. While God was serving everyone Amrut, a demon, named Rahu, through yogic powers transformed himself into a Deva and sat in line to receive Amrut and thus become immortal. He sat between the Sun-God and the Moon-God. They both recognized the demon in the form of a Deva. When God unknowingly served Amrut to Rahu, both the Sun and the Moon revealed that it was a demon. So, God beheaded Rahu instantly with his Sudarshan Chakra. But by the time God beheaded Rahu he had drunk the Amrut. The Amrut had reached Rahu’s throat, making his head immortal. Rahu’s head thus became a planet. Since the Sun-God and the Moon-God told the Supreme God about Rahu, Rahu was deeply disappointed and nursed a hatred for them. Therefore it is believed that during certain times of the year Rahu holds the Sun and the Moon by his mouth (Grahan), hence is the existence of the Solar and Lunar Eclipses. The Shikshãpatri states that one should instantly stop all activities and chant the name of God at the time of an Eclipse. The reason for doing so is to chant and pray to God for the release of the Sun or the Moon from the grasp of Rahu. Be it a Solar or Lunar Eclipse, the rules to follow before, during and after the Eclipse are as follows:

Before the Eclipse:

  • One should not eat twelve hours before the Solar Eclipse begins. One can drink water.
  • One should not eat nine hours before the Lunar Eclipse begins. One can drink water.
  • In addition, one should not offer meals to God during this pre-Eclipse period. However, one is allowed to perform Aarti, pray and sing devotional songs during this period.
  • There may be times when the Solar Eclipse occurs before sunrise. Therefore one may see the Eclipse only after the Sun has risen. In this case, one should not eat after Sunset the previous night.   

During the Eclipse:

  • While the Eclipse is taking place, one should sit at one place, chant the name of God and sing devotional songs.
  • One should observe a waterless fast while the actual Eclipse is in progress.
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