New Delhi: As Hindus gear up to celebrate the Nag Panchami festival Monday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Friday urged snake charmers to use fake snakes instead of real ones to discourage atrocities against them during prayer ceremonies.
"Nag Panchami, which is held in honour of serpent god Nag Devta, instead of paying tribute to them, becomes a mockery. It is a torture for these fascinating reptiles," said PETA-India, campaign coordinator, Chani Singh in a statement.
According to the Hindu calendar, every year Nag Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravan.
"We have also asked the Bedia Federation of India and Organisation of World Bedia and Snake Charmers to encourage the use of fake snakes in place of real ones during this year`s Nag Panchami," Singh said.
PETA said captured snakes are often kept in suffocating bags or tiny boxes, starved and their fangs violently yanked out, or their mouths painfully sewn shut. The snake`s venom duct is often pierced with a hot needle, causing its glands to burst.
Some snakes have their eyes damaged when the `tika` (vermillion) applied to their hoods during prayer ceremony trickles into them.
The organisation said many believe that snakes consume milk. But milk is not part of their natural diet and it causes them to become severely dehydrated. Most die as a result, it said.
"We urge snake charmers to show their compassion for these tormented animals and use fake ones made up of plastic or wood instead," Singh added.