What should one do or not do in Grahana (Eclipse)
According to the Shastra, Grahana is a very different auspicious period. Very different means, on the auspicious hour all that we do is not done, but at the same time, during this period one performs spiritual karmas and avoids doing wrong karmas.
It is accepted, we get many-fold results for the karmas performed during this period.
There are different aspects which are seen during a grahana period. First is called Sutak period (theetu in tamil). This period differs for a solar and lunar eclipse. For solar this period is 12 hours before and for lunar it is 6 hours before the ecplise. After the start of this period, norlmally, no solid food is consumed. And temples are closed during this period, till the end of grahana.
The grahana period is itself of three periods, the start, middle and the end (called sparsha, moksha and nivrtti in sanskrit). Before the start and end of the grahana, one takes bath. Sometimes, there are people who do bath during the middle of the grahana, moksha period. After the grahana, the house should be washed or atleast water should be sprinkled.
During the grahana, chanting of mantras, slokas and even tarpanas (obulation to the ancestors) is performed. We avoid doing puja, homa and also any other inauspicious activities.
When we do a mantra japa, normally we do achamana (sipping of water), sankalpa, rishyadi nyasa, anga and kara nyasa and dhyana as a part of the japa (we will see this in a different blog later and also the method of doing a purascharana). But, during the grahana we need not perform all this, but just do the rishyadi nyasa before the japa..
If one is initiated into many mantras, this will be the period to just, as to say, charge the mantras. But, one should the main mantra, one regularly chants for the maximum period.
After the grahana, after taking the bath, one should should chant the mantras again for a small period. In the day time, it is also a practice to change the yagnopavita (sacred thread).
Some people ask, what is the significance of Grahana, though they have belief in Shastra. I will explain through science, logically. Body is a magnet. Rays have the magnetic energy. When the sun rays pass through the lens, it does not burn the things beneath, but it will when it passes through in a concentrated level. Similarly, this imaginary nodal point called Rahu/Ketu (umbra or whatever), makes the rays concentrated, which gives concentrated rays. What is the significance of doing japa then. It is well proven through science, when something good is done, the molecular structure changes in a nice way, and evil produces bad changes. So we ask to use this concentrated rays, and do good deeds during this period so that we get the full benefit.