A London primary school was criticized for banning children from watching the eclipse for “religious and cultural reasons.” Pupils at North Primary School in Southall were stopped from watching the solar eclipse directly and had to observe it on screens instead.
Sometimes known as Little India, Southall is a diverse community in west London with a large Hindi population.
This part is speculative, but it’s all we have to go on because the school authorities didn’t care to explain what the problem was, exactly:
Although headteacher Ivor Johnstone would not comment on what the ‘religious and cultural’ reasons were, some Hindu scriptures say that an eclipse makes believers impure.
And fundamentalists believe that they need to bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.
Said Phil Belman, parent of a seven-year-old:
My daughter was sent home yesterday to make a pinhole camera for the eclipse. This morning I heard for religious and cultural reasons the kids were going to be banned from any part in the eclipse. I [made a call and] was put through to [Johnstone] straightaway and he confirmed it: religious and cultural reasons. … I asked him to elaborate and he refused.
The kerfuffle turned out to be moot, at least for practical reasons, as Saranyu, the goddess of clouds, turned the sky over West London overcast yesterday, rendering the solar eclipse invisible to mortals on that patch of Gaia‘s splendid creation.
(Image via Shutterstock)