The Unique Ritual of Getting Bitten by Snakes Celebrated by Tribals in Jharkhand

by Hannah Punitha on Aug 23 2008 1:08 PM

Tribals in Jharkhand celebrated their traditional festival during which the devotees practice a unique ritual of being bitten by snakes to please the Hindu deity Mansa Devi.

People participating in the snake biting ritual at Mahulia Sol village apply herbal medicines all over their bodies and also eat special herbal medicine named Eklavi that protects them from the poison of snakes.

According to them, if they chew this medicine, the snakes would find it difficult to bite them and even if they bite the poison won't affect their bodies.

"Our forefathers have been doing this for the past many years, but we have no idea why they do it. We are doing this as a part of our tradition. These poisonous snakes here are cobras and if they bite the person sitting on the carrier, he won't get affected because he has some very effective medicines applied all over his body," said Ras Raaj Kahili, a devotee.

About eight to ten snakes are placed on the bodies of the two devotees who carried on palanquins. These snakes keep biting them but they are not affected at all.

"You must have heard about the story of Lakhinder and Behula. Lakhinder was once bitten by a snake and died soon after that. But then his wife Behula prayed to Mansa Devi who then after being pleased with her granted back her husband's life to him. Since then, our forefathers made this a tradition to worship Mansa Devi by getting bitten by snakes with this faith that Mansa Devi would save them anyhow," said Deepak Kumar Das, another devotee.

The devotees who get bitten don't speak a word for three days except for reciting `mantras'. By Girija Shankar Ojha