Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageIndians celebrate Nag Panchami the snake festival

By Sravanth Verma     Aug 1, 2014 in World
Nag Panchami, a festival of the worship of snakes in India, is being celebrated on August 1. Devotees traditionally offer prayers to idols of snakes and in many cases live snakes as well.
The festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day after the new moon in the lunar month of Shravan, as per the Indian calender. Shravan corresponds approximately to July/August in the Gregorian calendar. The word "Nag" means snake in Sanskrit, while "Panchami" refers to the fifth day after the new or full moon.
The rituals on the day include offering milk to snakes. The Indian cobra is probably the most worshiped snake species. Snake charmers and collectors display their reptiles to members of the public and offer them to people to worship for a fee. Activists of various wildlife conservation organisations have appealed to citizens to use idols of snakes for worship instead of captured animals. "People worship snakes, especially cobras, during Nag Panchami. Snake-charmers and collectors display them at snake shows. The reptiles are abused. Their fangs are removed and they are starved so that they consume milk offered by devotees. This kind of torture proves fatal for snakes," said environmentalist Kishore Pathak. "According to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is illegal to capture snakes. Snake-charmers remove the fangs of the snakes and sew their mouths. People should become aware about the wrong practices that they follow in the name of religion," he added.
Environmentalist Subhas Rathod urged people not to feed milk to snakes. "Cobras feed on rats, rodents and other reptiles and act as friends of farmers. Rats are carriers of many diseases such as leptospirosis and destroy about 30 percent of crop. The usual perception is that all snakes bite and are venomous. In reality, of the 250 kinds of snake species found in India, only 15 are venomous. Of these, only four are found in the Marathwada region; the rest are non-poisonous and a few semi-poisonous," said Pathak. "Usually, before Nag Panchami, snake-charmers hunt down cobras and capture them. They are not fed any food or water in the days prior to the festival, so when milk is offered, the reptiles drink it. Snakes are used to a different diet and the milk harms them. Once the festival is over, many snake-charmers sell the snakes for their skin," he added.
The worship of snakes varies slightly across the country but is similar in its major aspects with many myths and legends. For example, the snake is found wound around the neck of the Hindu god Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. They are also an important part of iconography in ancient Indian tantra, representing the kundalini or psychic energy.
More about indian festivals, Snakes, Wildlife
More news from