Srinagar: Areeba, a pregnant woman in her 30’s is experiencing her first pregnancy. Her phone has started buzzing since morning with all her friends and relatives calling her, warning her not to go out, not to touch iron or use any sharp objects like knives, needles, scissors; not to cut vegetables or even apply kajal in her eyes.
She is also asked not to cook, eat or drink; stay in one position in absolute darkness. All this because today is the longest lunar eclipse when a rare blood-red moon would be seen after 36 years.
Despite her Gynaecologist nullifying the myth related to pregnant women and lunar eclipse, and reading about it online, she says, she will stay indoors and follow the instructions of her mother-in-law.
“I know a woman who combed her hair on Grahanmat (eclipse). Her child also has the mark of a comb on his head. It is visible. Old people had wisdom. They knew the impact of eclipses. A relative of mine has a deformity on her face. Because her mother had locked a door. Her face is twisted like someone twists the key in a lock,” says Abida.
Abida says she had also tested the myth while she was pregnant. She is quite sure that the myth is more of a fact.
“I also would not believe in these things. During my second pregnancy, I decided to test it. I applied Kajal in my eyes and stretched the line a little outside my eyes. My son has the mark near his eyes,” she says.
Like Abida, many living in Kashmir believe that the myth is a fact. They say that religion also suggests for them to take care on the day of an eclipse.
However, many Islamic scholars have invalidated the myth. In a video posted online, Dr. Muhammad Salah, a PhD holder in Comparative Fiqh with an MBA in Islamic Studies from Cloverdale college, says, “people say that pregnant women should not go out during eclipses as they believe that they will harm the baby or it will cause the baby to be deformed or disfigured…. No, not at all. There is no such reference. That’s entirely a myth. On the contrary, there is a Hadith in which the Prophet (ﷺ) alerted his companions to the fact that the Sun and the moon are of the two signs of Allah Almighty in this magnificent universe and they do not suffer from any eclipses due to the death the birth of anyone.”
The myth erupted, Dr Salah says, because the day of eclipse coincided with the death of Prophet Mohammad’s (ﷺ) son Ibrahim (A.S).
“It is a natural phenomenon,” he says adding, “It doesn’t affect the babies in the womb of their mothers or anything like that. Rather there is a prayer for whenever there is a solar eclipse or lunar eclipse, offer Salat-ul-Qusoof. Besides that this is a sign of what will happen to the sun and the moon on the day of judgement.”
Siding with the scholars, the doctors are also of the same opinion. Explaining the deformities, Dr Lubna says, “there is no association between the solar/lunar eclipse with pregnancy. But, this is a very strong myth that women have been following through ages now. Basically, the reason behind the deformities in foetuses in the womb is that women above the age of 30 years already have a risk of chromosomal abnormalities.”
“Most women have their second or third pregnancy while they are in their 30’s,” she says adding that she never followed the myth while she was pregnant.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, Dr Shehnaz Teng, a renowned gynecologist affirmed that the relation between the eclipses and pregnancy is “totally unscientific.”