Solar Eclipse is the phenomenon which occurs when the Moon moves in between the Sun and the Earth. It takes place during the New Moon Phase. Solar eclipses can be partial or full in nature and they occur up to 5 times a year.
Throughout history, different religions have acknowledged solar eclipses as significant events. The Chinese have interpreted eclipses as a giant dragon devouring the Sun for 4000 years. The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Assyrians were also curious about solar eclipses and studied them devotedly.
The Story of eclipse
The story of eclipses in Hindu mythology dates back to the samudra manthan, the churning of the milky ocean. The story is beautifully described in Bhagawata and Vishnu Puranas.
After the Amrit was churned out of the milky ocean, the Devas used the apsara Mohini to trick the Asuras out of its share. One of the Asuras, Svarbhanu, disguised himself as a Deva, and sat between the Sun and the Moon for a drink of the elixir.
When Vishnu came closer, the Sun and the Moon revealed that Svarbhanu was a demon. By this time, however, Svarbhanu had already sipped on the drink. Vishnu immediately cut off his head, but since the demon had already swallowed a bit of the nectar, his head became immortal.
The head, known as a separate entity called Rahu (the detached body came to be known as Ketu), then swore vengeance against the Sun and the Moon for depriving him of the elixir. So, from time to time, Rahu catches up with the Sun and the Moon, and swallows them. The incident doesn’t last long because Rahu has no hands to grab onto these two celestial gods.