Solar eclipse Dubai: @jruzz
A "ring of fire" or annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth Image Credit: @jruzz/ Instagram

“The Solar Eclipse has made the birds very quiet today,” said my wife, and sure enough it was not like a noisy jungle anymore.

We have this huge, ancient Indian almond tree just outside the bedroom window and sometimes peacocks from the neighbouring plantation visit us and sit on the branches and scream in the night, and it is like someone being strangled.

Then we have the melodic Koel, and suddenly in the middle of this beautiful bird song, we hear a cat meowing in tune, and it is the Catbird, that mimics various species. So we have chirping and yowling, all at the same time.

A Solar Eclipse does not mean the end of the world, but in many cultures it is still a very inauspicious event that should be avoided by every possible means.


To add to the chorus, there is a strange, deep sonorous sound, that goes ‘whoop’, ‘whoop’ in the darkness. “That is a vampire bat, I am sure, looking for fresh blood,” I tell my wife as she gets up to shut the window, as it becomes even more noisier than the honking traffic on Bellary Road as the night progresses.

Deathly quiet

But today it was deathly quiet. Maybe the birds could sense something was not right, even if you could not witness the Solar Eclipse in Bengaluru.

The only spots where you could see the “ring of fire” in India was from Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Haryana, as the sun was fully covered by the Moon’s shadow, with only the rim showing.

Birds and animals can sense if anything is wrong and if things are awry in nature. It is said dogs can predict an earthquake and start howling much before it occurs.

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I remember one scene in the War of the Worlds when people are fighting to get on board a ferry to escape from the Aliens who are just behind them, and Lucy the young girl character in the movie, looks up as chaos reigns around her, and sees birds, in their thousands, fleeing from inland to the open waters of the ocean.

A Solar Eclipse does not mean the end of the world, but in many cultures it is still a very inauspicious event that should be avoided by every possible means.

Desi moms and superstitions

Desi moms (moms from the subcontinent and that includes Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) stop everyone in the household from eating while the eclipse is on. In India, it is believed that a demon called Rahu comes and swallows the Sun.

On the social media platforms, Indian millennials were having a great time spoofing the superstitions, and of course, the heated topic of discussion was fasting during the eclipse.

It is not just during an eclipse, but Rahu Kalam, the period of time that is inauspicious, occurs every day in India, and there are certain things one is supposed to avoid doing during these hours.

Here is a conversation most people from India can relate to:

Daughter: Mom, the guests will be arriving from 3pm and as you know the wedding ceremony is 3.45 and please let’s not delay anything.

Dad’s voice thundering from inside his room: Which silly priest gave you the auspicious time. Here, look at my calendar, it is Rahu Kalam from 3.15 to 4.15pm. If you marry during this time, there will be suicides, shootings, divorce and general mayhem.

Daughter: Dad, please, neither Anand nor I believe in the stars. Will you take your BP medicine and have a nice cup of chai.

In Dubai, the Indian and other expatriates usually do not forget their traditions, and every time the Solar Eclipse occurs, the head of the Astronomy Department would be inundated with calls from anxious women.

“I tell them, especially the pregnant women, there is nothing to be worried about, and it is just superstition,” he once told the media.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi