If your idol is Galileo or you’re astronomy-maniacs, you shouldn’t miss “The Eclipse of the Century” on this coming Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009. Such a big name is given because this total solar eclipse lasts longest in the 21st century. More details click here: eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEmono/TSE2009/TSE2009.html
When it comes to this natural phenomenon, we Thais in the old times are on a different page. The whole process of both solar and lunar eclipse has nothing to do with the-moon’s- shadow-crosses-the-earth’s-surface thing. Instead, our belief in such event is based on Hindu mythology, regarding many deities.
“Once upon a time in heaven, a deity called Rahu stole immortal juice from Mahesh. The robbery was unmasked by two deities the Sun and the Moon. Rahu, therefore, was punished by cutting in half. He took his revenge on both deities, trying to catch and swollowing them. This action causes eclipse on earth.”
And now the weirdest part: our reaction to this story. Let me take you back to 1980s. I’ll show you how we deal with eclipses.
I was awaken in the middle of the night by my grandma. Outside my house, stood my whole family. Our neigbors were gathering outside as well. They all looked up to the sky where the moon was covered by a black shadow, like a devastative gigantic black hole. It was scary for me, being only a little kid. The moon looked as if it held a dark power that could suck all of us into another universe.
Bang! Bang! Bang! My fear turned into nothing as my family and neigbours started to beat our household tools like pans, pots, aluminium buckets, etc. They made loud noises covering the whole area. My fear gradually faded away, replaced by a festive feeling when I joined them.
“Why do we have to do this?”, I asked grandma. She explained to me that, “The moon is swallowed by Rahu, a bad deity. Noisy sound will scare him away and makes him release the moon.” That night, before I went to bed (for the second time), my grandma told me the whole Rahu story (for the first time). And I truly and innocently believed what my grandma told me.
I’d believed so for so long until the truth was revealed in my science 101 class. But I don’t feel I was fooled by my grandma. I feel like it’s just another good bedtime story for me. And I thank her for that.