An Eclipse also referred to as ‘Grahan,’ holds religious significance for many Hindus who follow rituals per the Hindu calendar. Eclipse is of two types, Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse. It occurs when an astronomical object obscures the path of rays partially or fully due to the placement of a second object.

    An eclipse is a spectacular sight and a rare astronomical event only visible from a limited area. While many find eclipses amazing and eagerly wait for it’s happening, ancient Hindu texts suggest that it is not something we should all be eagerly waiting for.

    Rahu and Ketu denote the two points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move around the celestial sphere. Therefore, Rahu and Ketu are respectively called the North and the South Lunar nodes. Sometimes when the moon passes these nodes, it is aligned perfectly between the earth and the sun to create eclipses.

    The fact that eclipses occur when the Sun and Moon are at one of these points gives rise to the myth of swallowing the Sun. In Hindu astrology (Jyotish Shastra), these cycles of Rahu and Ketu are well known. Still, their association with eclipses made the characters Rahu and Ketu eerily unknown, hidden, and dark. (Also Read – The story behind Rahu and Ketu and their significance)

    Why are Hindu temples closed during eclipses, and what happens inside the temple during this time?

    Temples are not just a place meant for God; instead, it is to experience the deeper subjective serenity of pure awareness and a place where that deeper divine aspect of life can be cherished through deeper contemplation. They are places of spiritual healing, where the geometry of the place is used as a Yantra, which creates a certain subtle energy flow. That energy conducts deep subjective experience, which enables the devotees to experience the divinity within the self inside the temple. Hence, shrines evoke subtler energies, which also interact with the cosmic energies from the solar system, planets, etc. An idol, which has been ceremoniously and ritually installed, constantly emanated positive energy. Nevertheless, most people visit temples to present their wish list rather than experience deeper tranquillity.

    During an eclipse, the aura around the idol is somewhat disturbed. According to Hindu texts, heavenly bodies, particularly the sun and the moon, emit abnormal negative energies during an eclipse. Therefore, the doors of the temple housing the main deity are closed to prevent and minimize these negative energies that could disturb the effects of the divine energy on the devotees. Ensuring the closing of the temple doors, Tulsi leaves are also placed on the idols to cover them against negative energy. Tulsi leaves are specifically chosen for this purpose as they can absorb harmful radiation. However, Kalahasteeswara temple in Sri Kalahasthi is not closed during an eclipse. The reason is that this temple is the only temple in India that offers puja and prayers to Rahu and Ketu. Thus, this temple is not affected by an eclipse.

    The wise men from the past were aware of the effects of eclipses on temples, thus its effects on us. As a result, the temple doors are closed to minimize the negative effects of eclipses on the aura of the idols, the temples, and, thus, the devotees who visit the temples.

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