For Immediate Release:
20 July 2012
Festival Supposed to Honour Serpent God Is No Place to Conduct Illegal Animal Torture, Says Group
Mumbai – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has fired off a letter to Mr Sandeep Mukherjee, spokesperson of the Bedia Federation of India, Organization of World Bedia & Snake Charmers, urging him to encourage the use of fake snakes in place of real ones during this year’s Naag Panchami among the snake charming community. PETA included some samples of realistic fake snakes along with the letter.
Naag Panchami is held to honour the serpent god, Naag Devta. Instead of receiving tribute, though, these fascinating reptiles are abused and tortured. It is a crime for snake charmers to hunt, capture, own, use, harm or kill snakes under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Yet snakes are still cruelly captured in suffocating bags, kept in tiny boxes and starved. Their teeth are violently torn out, and many snakes’ mouths are sewn shut in a highly painful manner.
“Snake charming makes a mockery of Naag Panchami by turning it into a festival of animal torture”, says PETA India Campaign Coordinator Chani Singh. “There is no place in a civilised society for yanking snakes’ teeth out and sewing their mouths shut. PETA India is calling on snake charmers to rein in this egregious abuse by using fake snakes for God’s sake.”
In addition to other abuses, charmers force the snakes to drink milk, which causes them to become dehydrated and often leads to dysentery and even death. Also, the snakes’ venom ducts are often pierced with a hot needle, which causes the glands to burst. Some snakes go blind when the “tikka”, which is applied to their hoods during pooja, trickles into their eyes, and thousands of snakes used in the festival die horribly every year. Most snakes shun human contact and would rather flee than fight. The “dance” that snakes perform is actually a fearful reaction to the charmers’ pipes, which snakes view as threats. Many Hindus have switched to using plastic and wooden snakes after India banned sewing snakes’ mouths shut and pouring milk down their throats.
PETA’s letter to the Bedia Federation of India is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.