Rituals that frighten 'hissing' Gods!
It is that time of the year where people go in search of mounds of anthills and burrows to empty litres of milk, break eggs, light lamps, camphor and incense sticks, offer flowers, coconut and burst crackers to appease the serpent Gods.
Visakhapatnam: It is that time of the year where people go in search of mounds of anthills and burrows to empty litres of milk, break eggs, light lamps, camphor and incense sticks, offer flowers, coconut and burst crackers to appease the serpent Gods.
Often it makes one wonder whether the rituals followed during 'Nagula Chavithi' celebrated on the fourth day after Diwali Amavasya is to seek blessings of the 'Nag Devtas' or scare the life out of snakes.
Experts, activists and animal lovers express concern over the rituals followed as they argue that in the garb of festival, the 'puja' rituals should not become a death trap for the hissing reptiles. They advocate celebrations without causing any harm to the snakes. "What the devotees fail to understand is that the snakes will neither drink milk nor devour the sweetmeats, fruits, eggs offered during Nagula Chavithi. Apparently, litres of milk that get into the pits will end up suffocating the snakes," says Rokkam Kiran Kumar, founder of Snake Saver Society and zoo advisory committee board member.
Though the animal activists are not against celebrating the festival per se, they have an appeal to make. "Whatever people like to offer, it is better to keep them close to the pits rather than pouring straight into them," suggest experts. By the time Nagula Chavithi is celebrated, the snakes would have gone through a great ordeal. "Also, there is a large scope for a swarm of ants to gather at the pits for the leftover food which would eventually turn out to be risky for the snakes," reasons Kiran Kumar.
In a city like Visakhapatnam, the urban landscape of which resembles a concrete jungle, there is a shortage of pits to perform 'puja'. Keeping the scarcity in view, some try to cash in on the opportunity by setting up artificial pits. After the rituals were completed, the eggs offered to the snake deities were being sold in the markets or noodles' shops. "There were occasions when people collected eggs right in front of us from the pits. But despite that, people tend to offer eggs to snake deities because they do not want to break the tradition followed for years," says P Sridevi, animal activist and animal rescuer associated with the Help Our Animals and Planet Earth Society.
Instead of showering the snake pits with trays of eggs and bowls of sweetmeats, animal activists appeal to the devotees to carry out rituals near the pits by offering minimum quantities of the edible items. Most importantly, they lay emphasis on refraining from bursting crackers and giving celestial baths to the snakes emptying sachets of milk.