Religious Tradition vs Animal Protection.
Would you pet a snake? Put a scorpion in your mouth? During the Hindu celebration of Nag Panchami this is exactly what happens. The yearly festival is designed to honor snakes, which have a prominent party of Hindu mythology. It falls on the fifth day of the Hindu lunar calendar.
Most of India and Nepal celebrates the holiday with fasting and prayers. Some areas have devotees feeding snakes milk and in one village, playing with scorpions.
While India claims there has never been a serious injury during this festival, the international organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have criticized the festival. PETA argues that the festival treats snakes cruelly by capturing them, ripping out their fangs, and the use of tikka (a red decorative pigment) can cause blindness. The famous “snake dance” to a pipe music is actually the snake exhibiting fear of the music, as it views it as a threat.
PETA, known for their extravagant protests, have had volunteers dress as snakes urging Indian citizens to stop using snakes. Hindu worshippers state that it is part of an ancient religious and cultural tradition that does not use the excessive measures that PETA states. Neither side seems willing to compromise.
Organizations have spoken out about banning the practice of allowing scorpions to run over bodies because of the risk to children. This led to the inclusion of doctors to treat any injuries that may occur. There have been successful campaigns to end sheep slaughter for worship and bull wrestling.