Scientists work to dispel myths surrounding solar eclipse

With many myths associated with solar eclipse, scientists and doctors on Wednesday worked hard to clear misconceptions in the minds of people.

In Taregna, where thousands of people had gathered to watch the eclipse, scientists distributed sweets among people in an attempt to defy the superstition surrounding eating during an eclipse.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was present in the town to watch the eclipse, himself ate the sweets and asked those present to adopt a scientific temper.

"We distributed sweets among the people gathered and encouraged them to eat, so that they can defy the superstition that we should not eat during an eclipse," Sachin Bhamba, General Secretary of NGO SPACE said.

Another NGO, Manthan also worked to dispel myths surrounding the eclipse, which many believe is the harbinger of calamities and epidemics.

We organised activities and observations for people and children to make them understand what the celestial phenomenon is all about," its Out-Reach Co-ordinator Kanthan Kothari said.

"We give scientific reasoning to beat myths," he said. "Our organisation organised workshops for children and adults in small cities in Katni, Ujjain, Bhopal and Jabalpur in association with the Council for Science and Technology in MP. We want to make people aware that it is a purely scientific event, and has nothing to do with these stories," said Ratnashree, Director of Nehru Planetarium.

Some common myths regarding solar eclipse are that people, especially pregnant women, should remain indoors while it takes place and not eat anything.

But doctors insist that other than the damage the eclipse can cause if watched with the naked eye, there is no other proof of it causing any harm.

"It is safe to deliver on an eclipse day but people are not keen due to various myths," says Dr Shivani Sachdeva, a gynaecologist with Fortis Hospital.

"It is a myth that women exposed to eclipse end up with abnormal babies or one should not eat food exposed to the eclipse. There is no evidence to prove these beliefs," says Dr K K Aggarwal, President of Heart Care Foundation of India.

"Directly looking at the sun during the eclipse can damage the eyes permanently. Normally visible rays constrict the pupil and does not allow the person to be able to watch the sun for long. During an eclipse, these normal rays are cut off, allowing a person to look at the sun for a longer duration as a result of which the ultra violet rays can penetrate the eyes deeper and for longer period causing retina burn," Aggarwal added.


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