Mangalore, August 13: Nagara Panchami is festival which is religiously and compulsorily observed by people in India. A common ritual is to pour milk on anthills (snake dwelling place) or offer it to the snakes, besides offering of camphor, incense sticks, vermillion (kumkum) and haldi (turmeric). But how many actually know Snakes are actually averse to milk and cannot digest it? The reason being snakes are cold blooded and carnivorous animals and don’t consume milk.
Snakes don’t drink milk:
Milk is not the natural diet of snakes. Milk causes allergic reactions, dehydration and dysentery.
“Worms develop in the stomach which leads to their death.” says Dinesh from Pilikula Biological Park.
“Our zoo receives around 25 litres of milk during Nagara Panchami, brought by people who want us to offer it to the snakes. Even though we know snakes don’t consume milk we keep in front of the cage, as we don’t want to hurt their religious sentiments.”
“Not many know of this fact and awareness needs to be created. While young children know about this aspect as we have been conducting awareness campaigns. Older ones need to be educated about this,” Dinesh said.
“The awareness level in children at places like Bangalore and Mysore is greater and often we find them telling older people not to give milk. Here lot needs to be done.” he added.
What mythology says:
As per mythology it is said that once when a farmer was tilling a land he accidentally killed a snake family. One member of the snake family which had gone a stroll during the accident returned home and found that entire family was killed. In order to seek revenge the snake killed all family members of the family except his daughter who was at her in-laws house. Guided by intention to bite the snake is said to have gone to her house to bite. Since the day was naga panchami the snake saw that the daughter was praying to Sheshanaga (Snake Lord) with utmost devotion. The snake which was fuming with anger is said to have fallen into the milk kept on the window sill and immediately became calm.
Impressed by her devotion the snake which spoke in human voice told her that he had killed all her family members and asked her what boon she wanted. The daughter in turn asked the snake to bring all the members back to life. The snake granted her wish.
Scientific reasoning: need of the hour
Experts opine that scientific reasoning is the need of the hour. Pouring milk on the stone idols of snake is acceptable but not forcing the snakes to drink milk. Snake plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance. Recognizing this one must ensure that no harm will be made to the snakes in the name of myth.