Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Story of FAITH - Cobra and Peacock

My native village has some very unique practices. 
Once such practice and its significance is the basis for this story.

People of all castes in Udupi\Kundapur region revere the Cobra as a God snake. If the snake is spotted (which is not rare) nobody would hit it or try to kill it. It is mostly true for the other snakes as well. But Cobra is special. They call it DevaraHavu(ದೇವರ ಹಾವು) or "Naga deva" (ನಾಗದೇವ) (Meaning the God snake).

Yes, the Cobra is God. There are temples with lots of stones on which the cobra head is carved out. Pooja is performed everyday. Special ceremonies are organized to please the God-snake. Thousands are fed as part of these special ceremonies called NagaMandala (ನಾಗ-ಮಂಡಲ). This is an all night ceremony.

It is also believed that the Snake-God enters a human body (virtually) and provides solutions to the problems of individuals. The human is called as "Naga Patri" (ನಾಗದೇವರ ಪಾತ್ರಿ).  Special kind of flowers and music is associated with the God snake.

A piece of land is left vacant in the "Nagana nede" (ನಾಗನ ನಡೆ). It is a significantly large piece of land. (~5ft x ~ 300ft). This land is not dirtied or used for any human purposes, basically because it is the path of the snake. 
Death of a cobra is treated as the death of a human. The same set of ceremonies for 12 days is associated with the snake's death. It is a general practice that such ceremonies are performed by the person who first sees the dead snake. He\She needs to bear the cost.

If the snake is ill-treated in any way, it is believed that the person who ill-treated would incur the wrath of the snake God. So ignoring a dead cobra is believed to be a wrong thing to do.

All in all - the cobra is a feared and respected snake.

Since a couple of years my village has become home to peacocks. Lots of them are seen in the gardens, on top of coconut trees, on compound walls etc etc. They share space with humans. I am not sure what made my village special for the peacocks. I had not seen one during my summer vacations in my childhood. But looking at the number of them, I feel Govt should form some sort of "Peacock reserve" in the area. By law, our national bird is protected. Nobody should kill them. Killing them would result in severe punishment.

It seems that peacock is not just beautiful but also very tasty. The size means there is lot more meat in it than a cock. People would hunt down the bird and feed on them in secret. Law just couldn’t prevent the killing of our national bird.

Peacock feeds on snakes. It happened that one of the hunted peacocks had just fed upon a cobra. When the peacock was cut open, the dead God snake was seen by the family. They feared. They also had to perform the last rites of the snake. They spread the word that peacocks feed on God snakes.

This suddenly created panic wave. Was it fear of eating a God slayer? Was it fear of additional expenditure of last rites? Or...
Whatever be the reason, now nobody kills peacocks to eat there.

What law could not achieve was achieved by FAITH! 


Anonymous said...

The photos are good. I want to come to your home.
- Sundar

Sailor in Metal ocean said...

wow manju,
a different way of putting a blind belief in reality

peacock said...

Nice sharing and photos! Your village seems interestingly lively. I was just looking at a Persian mural painting of peacock eating snake. It says 'the peacock with a thousand eyes hunting cobra in the garden of paradise'. How true! I didn't know peacocks do eat snakes!!! Hope to see more of your post of such story. Thanks