Friday October 19, 2018

Inhumanity in the name of God: The heinous reality of Nagpanchami and the steps being taken

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Nagpanchami is a festival celebrated all over India, where people worship the Snake God. This eve, where it’s auspicious to even have a glimpse of a cobra and offer it some milk, has a very inhuman and grim reality attached to it. A month before the auspicious day, snake charmers start hunting and capturing snakes and harm them in the most brutal ways. Because watching a snake is considered holy and lucky on this day, snake charmers make a lot of money out of this. But nobody bothers to even think about the painful conditions snakes are kept in.

Snake_in_basketSnake charmers remove the fangs and venom of the snakes for the safety of the people when they are put for public display on the eve of Nagpanchami. Then they stitch the snake’s mouth with a thread so that it does not eat anything, thereby making it hungry and thirsty. Hence offering milk on this auspicious day is an act of forcefully making the snakes drink milk which is not their food at all. Also, the absence of its venom apparatus and other severe infections result in the snake being unable to eat its natural prey or even drink water later. By the time Nagpanchami is over, the snake is extremely weak, severely infected and the snake charmer, after making his money, just throws the snake away, thereby letting it die a very slow and painful death.

Fortunately, with the combined efforts of various NGOs, Wildlife Protection Activists and government initiatives over the years there has been a decline in the number of snakes getting harmed. To protect snakes falling prey to such heinous hands, the Bombay High Court, on July 15, 2014, had banned the capture and exhibition of snakes on Nagpanchami. Citing references to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the court had also rejected Battis Shirala’s opposition to the ban. It also cast aside the town’s contention that the festival was centuries old, pointing out that the gazette published in 1858 had no mention of the festival in the town.

The Friends of Snakes Society, Hyderabad, takes a lot of measures in this regard. The volunteers and activists of this society, a month before Nagpanchami, start searching for the buses and vehicles and scrutinizing the snake charmers and all possible luggage where a snake could be found. If found, the snakes are taken to a veterinary doctor and are given proper medication.

The blind faith in religion and God and the stupidity of people lead to such inhumane acts and create loopholes in the society that allow the snake charmers to indulge in this.

But fortunately, there are measures being taken which are proving effective in saving the Snake God we worship, from the absurdity of how we show our belief and faith; doing so in the name of religious traditions.

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Do Ichhadari Naagins exist for real? Here is what Hindu mythology has to say!

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Ichhadari Naag
snakestone in Vijayanagar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Indian mythology states that a snake can become Ichhadhari only after living 100 years
  • A ‘nagamani’ can be defined as ‘snake gem’ or ‘snake pearl’
  • Shesha naag and Vasuki are synonymous with each other as Anant

Ichhadhari naag and nagin are one of the most interesting subjects of mythology. Ichhadhari naag and nagin concept is gaining momentum these days owing to the various television serials and Bollywood movies, as most of them are based on this concept. This concept is used as it fascinates large number of people and is an efficient tool for gaining TRP.

King Cobra (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
King Cobra (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ichhadhari naag and nagin are defined as serpent like creatures which can change their form and mask like any other creature. But, these Ichhadhari naag and nagin are more willing to take form of a human. Moreover, Indian mythology states that a snake can become Ichhadhari only after living 100 years.

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According to the Speakingtree.com Website, other most interesting subject that is related to Ichhadhari naag and nagin is ‘nagamani’. A ‘nagamani’ can be defined as ‘snake gem’ or ‘snake pearl’.  Although it is not actually a gem or any other stone, it is unused venom of a snake that turns out into a stone.

Some people also believe that nagamani is formed when rain droplets enters mouth of King Cobra during Swati nakshatra.  It is formed in the hood of king Cobra. Nagamani is said to have blessings of Lord Shiva. However, possessing nagamani is not  easy, as King Cobra never discloses nagamani.

Nagamani is a powerful and  most shining stone in the world. It is moon like pearl with a blue tint in it. It possesses lighting power of 100 bulbs. There are number of the myths regarding nagamani. Prevalent one is that whoever owns nagamani, will have great fortune regarding money, health and fame. It  fulfills all the desires of the person who possess it. According to Puranas, King Cobra will die once it gets detached from Nagamani, said the Speakingtree.com Website.

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Nagamani (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Nagamani Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is a mention of Ichhadhari naag and nagin in Agni Purana. According to it, there are seven worlds beneath Earth – Atal, Vital, Sutal, Talaatal, Mahaatal, Rasaatal and Paataal. Lord Vishnu is also said to live beneath the earth in the form of Shesha Naag. It is believed that Shesha Naag is supporting earth by carrying it on its hood. According to Vayu Purana, snakes and devils live beneath Earth. Vasuki, a great snake lives in Shreetal. Shesha naag and Vasuki are synonymous with each other as Anant.

Various scriptures suggest that nagamani is found in many colors ranging from yellow to white. The stories about Ichhadhari naag and nagin are still prevalent in Rural India. Some people also believe that Ichhadhari naag and nagin exists in today’s world.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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