Nag Panchami

Situated at approximately 400 kms from Mumbai, the village of Baltis Shirale, conducts the most outstanding celebration of Naga Panchami, a festival where live snakes are worshipped. A report suggests that the largest pit of snakes in the world can be found in Baltis Shirale. About a week before this festival, the people of the village dig out live snakes from their dens and they keep them covered in earthen pots. On the day of the festival, the pots are carried to the sacred temple of goddess Amba and after a ritual worship, the snakes are taken out from the pots and are set free in the temple courtyard. After the puja, the snakes are put back in the pots and are carried in bullock-carts in procession throughout the Shirale village, while one or two cobras are let loose in front of each house where men and women offer prayers and perform “aarti”.

An incredible fact of this ritual, confirmed by the Director of the Madras Snake Park after a thorough examination of these cobras, is that the poison-containing fangs of the snakes are not removed neither is the poison extracted. Despite this fact, there has been no report of snake bite in the past during the festival and its rituals.