Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nag Panchami- a custom or threat?

Today, there will be many litres of milk thrown away, and many snakes caught, hurt and probably killed too. Because, today is Nag Panchami, a day where people superstitiously believe that snakes must be appeased by making them drink milk. More so, forcing those poor creatures to 'drink' milk.

My bai (maid) was proudly telling me how she poured a litre of milk into a snake's hole in the earth and lit up some agarbattis, and how the snake will no longer come near her house, after she has done so.[Obviously not, that poor snake must have drowned in that milk or must have escaped from a milk-curdling experience!]

I was furious with her and tried explaining that snakes do NOT drink milk, and that most of them are caught, have their mouths stitched up so they cannot retaliate and then are made to 'drink' the milk. And the only way a snake does 'smell' its environment, is through its tongue, which is kept free whilst the rest of its mouth is stitched up. So the act of drinking milk is merely the snake trying to understand its predicament and situation.

Unfortunately, even though she did understand, she also thought I was crazy to defend the snakes and laughed at me. Which means, the next year the same story will be repeated.

This festival is not just about snakes being harmed, its also about so much of milk going waste! In a country that is facing huge agricultural and resource crisis, what right do we have to waste food like this?

And oh yes, the High Court did ask the State Government to intervene as several PILs have been lodged against this practice. But the Government is yet to reply. Bloody shame!

And yet, no one is really ashamed. Why?