The legend and significance of Rahu and Ketu
According to legend, during the Samudra manthan, Dhanvantari came out with a pot of Amrit and immediately there was a mad scramble for it among the Devatas and Asuras. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini (a beautiful dancer) and offered her services in distributing the amrit equally to both the Asuras and Devatas.
She made both of them sit in two different rows but she gave the Amrit to the Devatas only. Towards the end, one of the Asuras saw through her trick. He went and sat among the Devatas and drank the Amrit. The moment Chandra (Moon) and Surya (Sun), who were sitting besides him, saw that he was a Asura, they informed Mohini. Lord Vishnu came in his real form and let out the Sudarshan Chakra (wheel) at the Asura. The Asura’s neck was separated from the body, but he did not die as he had drunk the Amrit. His head was called ‘Rahu’ and his torso ‘Ketu’. According to legend, Rahu and Ketu swallowed the moon and sun to have their revenge, causing an eclipse.
Hanuman chasing Rahu
During his childhood, Hanuman saw Rahu the dragon making his way to devour the sun and thus cause an eclipse. Thinking him to be a worm, the restless Hanuman dashed towards Rahu and attempted to catch Rahu. Rahu sought shelter in the refuge of Indra, the lord of the skies. Indra picked up his deadly thunderbolt, mounted his white elephant named Airavata and made off in search of Hanuman. As he wanted to restrain his seeming impudence. The clouds rumbled and lightning thundered across the vast skies in an expression of Indra’s wrath. But neither this scary scenario, nor the mightily armed Indra on his high mount, was sufficient enough to induce even a trace of fear in the heart of Hanuman. On the contrary, the spectacle only served to fuel his excitement and mistaking Airavata for a toy, he made a grab for the pachyderm, seized its trunk and leapt on its back. Taken aback by the child’s spirited and playful defiance, Indra stuck at Hanuman with his thunderbolt, and the wound thus inflicted hurtled him speedily down to the earth. His father Vayu immediately sprung to his rescue and caught him in mid air. This incident led Vayu to withdraw air from whole world. Later he was pacified and Hanuman was blessed by a number of gods, including Brahma. Brahma also given him the famous boon of evading even the Brahmastra.
Another legend involving Rahu and Hanuman
On another occasion, during the Ramayana war, Ravana imprisoned the Navagrahas. Hanuman arrived and released them. They were grateful to Hanuman, saying “people devoted to you are blessed by us too.” All the grahas thanked Hanuman individually for releasing them. Thus, it is believed that Rahu’s negative influence will be subdued when one worships Lord Hanuman.
Interesting ritual associated with worship of Rahu
At Vinayaga temple, the idol of Rahu in Rahu-sthalam is given milk abhishekam everyday. When milk falls over the body of Rahu, it turns blue and becomes white once it leaves the body. it is believed that doing Milk abhishekam(especially on Sundays) here for Rahu during Rahu kalam (period of 1and 1/2 hours occurring every day), the malefic effects of Rahu like marriage obstacles, lack of progeny, troubled marital life, Kalasarpa Dhosham, Kalasthra Dhosha, Sarpa Dhosha are all neutralized