There are numerous recording of Surya Grahan, or Solar Eclipse, in Hindu scriptures. The most famous being the Suryagrahan during the famous Mahabharata war. Usually, Hindus do not perform any work during Surya Grahan and they purify themselves by taking a bath and by chanting mantras. A complete fast is undertaken by many Hindus during the period. In Hindu religion, taking a holy dip at sacred rivers and tirths on the Surya Grahan day is considered highly auspicious.
Update: The next Surya Grahan is on July 11, 2010. But this is not visible in India and major parts of the world.
Ancient sages and texts like Brahman Siddhanta restrict viewing the eclipse – one should look at an eclipse through a cloth or a reflection of it. A pregnant woman should never look directly at an eclipse.
Mantras Chanted during Surya Grahan
Some of the important mantras that are chanted during the Surya Grahan include:
Ashtakshara Mantra dedicated to Shri Krishna. Ashtakshara mantra is ‘Shri Krishna ha sharnam mama.’ Astakshari Mantra is also taken as ‘Om Namoh Narayan Na Yah.’
Mahamrityunjay Mantra is also chanted during eclipse.
Other mantras chanted are Surya Kavach Strotra and Aditya Hridaya Strotram
It is important that one chants mantra, or remember god in any form, at this time to keep calm and the aura clean.
Hindu Temples Remain Closed
All Hindu Temples remain closed during Surya Grahan. Temples open only after proper rituals are performed to get rid of the ill effects of the Surya Grahan. However, some Lord Shiva temples remain open during Surya Grahan as Lord Shiva is considered as ‘Layakara,’ who Himself is an embodiment of darkness.
Fasting During Surya Grahan
Adult Hindus stop eating 12 hours before a solar eclipse. Children, old people and those who are ill stop eating 3 hours before the beginning of a solar eclipse. If the solar eclipse ends after sunset, then people fast during night and consume food only next day morning.
One should not take food at the time of Grahan because it is said that at this time the most harmful rays from the sun can be seen and absorbed.
Pregnant Woman and Surya Grahan
Normally at the time of Surya Grahan, pregnant women are supposed to not come out of the house, with no sunlight entering either by doors or windows. This is to avoid harmful rays. You can find more detail regarding Surya Grahan and Pregnancy in this article.
You may also like to readStory of Surya Grahan and Chandra Grahan in Hindu mythology