Superstition eclipses rare solar blackout
While milllions marvelled today over one of the most dramatic solar eclipses seen in years, pupils at a London primary school told they could not watch it for ‘religious and cultural reasons’.
According to this report, 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.
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.
However parents said children were disappointed by the decision, arguing that religious superstition had been allowed to overshadow science.
Phil Belman, whose seven year old daughter goes to the school, said:
I am extremely upset about it. My child went in having spent an hour preparing and making up her pinhole camera. This is an issue about scientific matters versus religious superstition. I am outraged – is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid America.
The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly. Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms.
However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.
It is a very diverse school with kids from a lot of backgrounds including our own. They take a balanced approach as a whole, so this is completely out of the blue.
He suggested that if parents did not want their kids to watch the eclipse they should have been given the option of keeping them at home.
But it wasn’t an option. This was very last minute and a knee jerk reaction.
Ealing Council and the Department of Education said it would not be investigating the incident.
In the run-up to the rare eclipse, religious loons were gleefully predicting that it signalled the end of the world.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey