Superstitious pregnant women and fortune tellers were on their guard on Wednesday night and early yesterday morning during the longest lunar eclipse for over a decade. The celestial phenomenon saw expecting mothers nervously remain indoors while mystics and magicians halted their work. “The event has a significant impact on us. Our spirits, whom we assign to aid the needy, refuse to work. Only djins [Muslim spirits] are active,” said Babu Fayaz Masih Bengali. The Christian mystic has been running a spiritual clinic for 20 years near a bus stop in Gujranwala, in Punjab province. He claims to solve problems involving affairs of the heart, business complications, household tensions, black magic, disease, travel problems and even to pick winning prize draw numbers in adverts he places in local newspapers. It's something that not just anyone can do. “Only a Christian can be a true aamil," read the usual magazine advertisements. Their contact numbers also appear on cable channel programs. Christian mothers to be, meanwhile, believe in an Islamic superstition which holds that pregnant women should avoid cutting vegetables, holding a sharp object or passing by a reflective surface or mirrors during an eclipse. “I was preparing evening meals in the first few weeks of my pregnancy when an eclipse occurred. My daughter was later born with a deformed hand and fingers,” said Martha Bibi, who comes from Khushpur, the largest Catholic village in the country. An eclipse does affect women, according to Father Emmanuel Asi, a renowned theologian. “It is a matter of life and death for pregnant women. Elderly Christian women tend to be more influenced by these superstitions which come from popular legends. However, there is scientific evidence that the moon affects the fertility of both the soil and a mother,” he said.
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