Since we have an eclipse coming up on April 8th, here’s a Hindu Moon story.


The 12 Houses in the Western Zodiac, like Aquarius, Pisces, Virgo and Leo, are named after the fanciful outlines of star constellations visible from the perspective of Earth.

However, in the East, in the Asian, South Asian and Islamic worlds, for thousands of years, these “asterisms” or star clusters have been observed differently, and are more numerous. There are twenty-seven of them, called Lunar Mansions, one for every day of the Lunar Month, and observing the moon pass these backdrop star clusters is an ancient practice. Many moon stories feature these observations. Here’s one from India.



A Hindu Sacred Story

Retold by Odds Bodkin


Lord Duksha, a Hindu god with the head of an ibex and a very fat body, had sixty-two daughters and loved every one of them. All were quite beautiful, because unlike Duksha, they had ordinary heads.

One day Soma, the Moon, who was very handsome, strolled into Duksha’s palace, bowed low, and said: “Lord Duksha, I wish to be married.”

Ah, thought Duksha, he wishes to marry one of my daughters. “Which one do you love?” he asked.

Soma slid his toe across the floor. “It’s not exactly like that, Lord Duksha. I wish to marry twenty-seven of them.”

Taken aback, Duksha replied, “Soma, that is far too many wives!”

Soma blazed with moonlight. “Not for me. I promise to pay equal attention to all of them. I will be a good husband. Every night, on my journeys across the stars, I pass all of them in their star cluster bodies. Forgive me, Ducksha, but I am hopelessly in love with all of them. I need every one.”

“That’s a lot of wives to keep happy,” Duksha replied dubiously.

“I am up to the task.”

Duksha sat back. Could this god do this? “I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Which ones do you fancy?”

“Well, Rohini, Hasta, Revati, Ashwini and, well, all these others.”

Soma handed Duksha a list, which raised the king’s eyebrows. After reading the names, he said, “Well, you have chosen wisely. All are beautiful and kind. As long as you promise to treat them all equally, I agree.”

Soma bowed low to Duksha. The king informed his daughters, who were delighted to be married to Soma, and a very large wedding was held. Surrounded by his wives, Soma enjoyed the festivities.

They all went back to live in his Day Palace, which he left each dusk to ride past them as they took their places in the starry heavens.

For a while he kept his word and paid attention to all of them equally. But there was one, Rohini, who was so beautiful and magnetic that even while he was with one of her sisters, he kept thinking about her. As time passed, he spent more and more time with Rohini, and less and less time with the other twenty-six. Even Rohini noticed and said, “You’re neglecting my sisters, Soma.”

“Am I?” Soma asked dreamily.

“You are. I love you, but they love you, too. I see it in their eyes. They’re angry with me. You should be fair to them.”

But Soma paid no attention and just as Rohini warned, soon her sisters, who’d noticed one by one their husband’s absences, began to talk among themselves.

“How long has it been since Soma spoke to you?” one would ask.


“What about you?”


“I don’t like it. I feel rejected.”

“He’s always with Rohini, have you noticed?”

“Of course.”

Soon all twenty-six realized Soma hadn’t spent time with any of them at all, except for Rohini. They became very jealous and dissatisfied.

Not long afterwards, Duksha had just taken his throne when in stormed his twenty-six disgruntled daughters. They explained what was going on and Duksha grew furious. “Not in months?” he asked.

“Months, father.”

“So,” fumed Duksha, “this Moon God thinks he can get away with this? No! He has broken his word to me to treat you all equally.” He stood, summoning his powerful dark mantras. “Soma the Moon,” he began, “You will never have children! In fact, I curse you to wither away and die!”

Thinking that was a bit extreme, the daughters asked him to go easier on their husband, but there was nothing they could do. Their father was angry, and once he was angry, that was it.

The next dusk, as Soma’s ten white horses champed at the bit, ready to gallop up into the sunset, he didn’t quite feel himself. Thinking not much of it, he made his nightly journey, bathing the earth below in silver light. “What is wrong with me?” he wondered at dawn as he tied up his horses. The following night, he felt even weaker. Gazing down at himself, he realized he’d lost weight. By two weeks later, there was hardly anything left of him, but he had no choice but to ride his chariot each night. No longer was he round and full, however. The light that poured from him became dimmer and dimmer. He’d begun to disappear. People on Earth were terrified.

But Duksha’s curse was powerful. Soon, Soma knew, if this kept up, he would die. The Moon would be gone forever.

Now, Shiva, a god infinitely more powerful than Soma or Duksha, was sitting on his bull when Soma staggered up to him.

“Lord Shiva!”

“Soma. A little skinny, aren’t we?”

“Duksha has cursed me to wither and die.”

“What did you do to anger the old man?”

“I didn’t pay attention to twenty-six of my wives.”

“I have but one. Parvati is one of Duksha’s daughters, too. She’s plenty for me. She scares me.”

“Please, I beg you, Lord Shiva, help me. I will honor you forever. I think only you can save me.”

Shiva sat back and considered. Although very little in the universe intimidated him, he wondered what would happen if twenty-seven of Parvati’s sisters were left without a husband, even if he wasn’t a very good one. No Moon? What would that be like?

“I cannot completely undo Duksha’s curse,” he lied, since he could, of course, but Soma didn’t deserve a full pardon for his neglectful promise-breaking. “However, I can save your life. Each month, following his curse, you will waste away, but just as you are about to die, drink this.” He handed Soma a gourd full of an elixir. “And you will be restored to your full size and be given another month.”

Just a wisp of his former self now, Soma drank down the liquid and was delighted to feel his strength return, along with his roundness. He blazed with full moonlight and felt much better. “Shiva, I will worship you forever.”

“See that you do.”

That night Soma blazed across the night sky, making the world below silver again.

Ever since, the Moon has waned, but then grown full. The elixir the gods drink is called Soma. And Shiva is often pictured with a crescent moon in his hair.

Two Special “Eclipse Tales” Performances this Week at NH Libraries

Free to the public, Odds Bodkin will be performing WHEN THE MOON DANCED WITH THE SUN: Tales for an Eclipse! at two New Hampshire libraries. August 17th at 7 pm at the Whipple Free Library in New Boston and again on eclipse day, August 21 at 1 pm at Fiske Free Library in Claremont.

With 12-string guitar, Celtic harp and alto recorder accompaniments, Odds spins three tales where a solar eclipse plays a special role. A Hindu tale from India, a Grimm’s fairy tale from Germany, and a Tibetan folktale about monkeys and leadership.

Come enjoy!

Eclipse Tales south of Boston tomorrow at 3 pm!

If you’re free or know anyone who is tomorrow, Thursday August 10th at 3 pm, come hear WHEN THE MOON DANCED WITH THE SUN: Tales for an Eclipse! at the Dighton Public Library in Dighton, MA. The performance is free to the public and appropriate for families. Fun music, amusing and amazing stories, plus a little info about the upcoming eclipse!

WHEN THE MOON DANCED WITH THE SUN: Tales for an Eclipse! at Dighton Public Library, Dighton MA on August 10th

When the Moon passes before the Sun, dare not to look at it (at least without approved lenses)! Yes, the Solar Eclipse is coming, about to sweep across the U.S. on August 21, and to celebrate it, I’ll be telling some great eclipse-themed tales at Dighton Public Library in Dighton, MA on August 10th at 3 pm. Free to the public, the show is filled with music on 12-string guitars and Celtic harp, some very silly characters and three little-known tales. One is from India. Another is a Grimm’s fairy tale. The last, a tale from Tibet,  speaks of what happens when unwise monkeys decide to follow an unwise leader.

Bring the whole family for this fun event! Kids will love it. Adults will laugh.