Dec 9th: Kala Rahu The Giant

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Podcaster: Avivah Yamani

Title: Folklore Series:  Kala Rahu The Giant

Organization: langitselatan

Link : http://langitselatan.com

Description:  This is a famous tale from Bali about the eclipse of the moon. This tale is strongly influenced by Indian (Hindu) Culture. There are many versions of this tale with some slight differences. Javanese Culture also has very similar tale like this.

Bio: Avivah Yamani is a an astronomy communicator from Indonesia.

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Transcript:

This is a famous tale from Bali about the eclipse of the moon. This tale is strongly influenced by Indian (Hindu) Culture. There are many versions of this tale with some slight differences. Javanese Culture also has very similar tale like this.

Once upon a time, there lived a giant named Kala Rahu. One day, he fell in love with the beautiful Moon Goddess, Ratih. He tried to approach her and make her fall for him, but unfortunately it’s an unrequited love. The beautiful Goddess rejected Kala Rahu which made him furious! His anger blinded him and he threatened to take revenge by attacking and ruining the heavens.  The threat made all the gods and goddess restless as they knew that Kala Rahu was a mighty giant and if he managed to attack then there was no doubt he would destroy the heavens!

To face the threat of Kala Rahu, the supreme God Wisnu served Tirta Amertha, an elixir of immortality to all the gods in Nirvana. Each of them will drink a sip of it and they will be immortal. Thus, it is expected that the gods and goddess in heaven will overcome Kala Rahu.

Knowing that Wisnu will serve the elixir of immortality, Kala Rahu wants to taste the elixir as well. Disguised as a woman, he connives to be present at the gods’ banquet, serving their magical elixir.

But soon, Wisnu was aware of the crime as He realized that the creature standing before him to receive the elixir is not a real god. Fast as thunder, Wisnu released his arrow and immediately cuts off the giant’s head. But before it happened, Kala Rahu furtively takes a mouthful of the drink even though he hadn’t swallowed it yet. Kala Rahu’s decapitated body dies, but his head has been made immortal by the elixir. His body fell on the ground and turned into a wooden stick to pound paddies.  The immortal head of Kala Rahu flew away and took an oath to hunt down the Moon Goddess and force her to become his lover.

During the full moon, the moon goddess was flying around enjoying the beautiful night. She had forgotten the giant’s oath and she had completely forgotten that the giant’s immortal head is still around patiently waiting for her. Once Kala Rahu saw the Goddess alone, he chased her through the sky in an attempt to catch her. Since the giant only has his head, then the one thing he could do is to swallow the moon goddess. When he finally swallowed the Goddess Ratih, the moon disappeared and there was no more light for the night.

But it’s only for a short time. People on earth who were worried that the Moon would vanish forever started making noise by pounding mortars (a traditional appliance for pounding rice) with the wooden stick from Kala Rahu’s body. As a result it hurt Kala Rahu and the giant failed to catch the goddess.

But he never learned his lesson. He kept trying to catch the goddess every chance he got. And he kept failing to catch the moon goddess because of the noise made by people on earth. And that’s when the lunar eclipse occurs on earth.

Thank you for listening, this is 365 days of Astronomy

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365 Days of Astronomy
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