Photo story: Jhapan Snake Festival

Jhapan is a unique and age-old Snake festival of agrarian-tribal origin which is celebrated in the month of Shravan (July-August) in different villages of West Bengal. This festival is celebrated mainly to mark the occasion of the worship of the Indian Goddess of Snake, Manasa Devi. Before this festival, the local snake-charmers, known as Jhampanias, fetch numerous snakes such as- cobras, pythons, vipers and more in and around their villages. These reptiles are then used by the Jhampanias to display numerous tricks during the Jhapan festival. The devotees observe a strict fast and offer milk to snakes in their religious vicinities. Fishermen take snakes for a traditional bath at their nearby river along with a procession of Manasa Devi by chanting mantras and singing sacred songs. Mother Manasa is esteemed as the Goddess of curing Snake bites and other hazardous diseases and illnesses such as- smallpox, chicken pox etc and is also honoured for opulence and fertility. Presently Authorities have raised concerns on celebrating this festival in many places on account of risk of snake bites and to protect snakes.

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