Why Do They Worship Snakes In India?
You may be shocked to know that I was born in a house that had been worshipping snakes. We, being traditional Christians, could not live in that house for long. We had to leave the place. Snake worship can be found prevalent in India and other countries. Why do people worship snakes?
My experience with serpent worship
Snakes or serpents are found everywhere. They have an important place in ancient and modern cultures. They have been worshipped. All the religious texts have serpent stories or mythologies. The serpents are dangerous and are feared for their poisonous attack. Why do they have the rank of deities and are worshipped?
My experience with serpent worship
I am very much afraid of snakes. We are Christians. My grandpa purchased a house before I was born from an orthodox Hindu family who had a “Sarpa Kavu” (serpent grove) near their house and worshipped snakes that lived in there. They were called divine snakes which lived comfortably under the shade of foliage and bamboo trees that were all covered by green creepers. The former owners of the house considered it sacred and were used to keep milk at the entrance of the serpent habitat. They worshipped them occasionally with mantras and flowers. Even after selling the house to us they came there and continued the services. I remember they continued this practice for some 3-4 years. After my birth, my family had some dispute with my grandpa and we left to the neighboring state where we settled like the Israel people who settled in Egypt. My grandpa also sold that house soon after our leaving. It was after 50 years of coming from that serpent house that we returned (after the demise of my parents) to our “Palestine” which is called Kerala.
India worshipping serpents
1) We can find temples for serpents all over India. Even today, serpent groves are maintained in many places as a treasure of nature.
2) Serpents or snakes have great significance in Hinduism and its sister religions. Almost every Hindu temple has a corner for snake worship.
3) Snakes such as naga (cobra) are found with the primary gods of Hinduism. Lord Siva has one on his neck and Lord Vishnu is found sleeping on a bed of snakes which are said to be the personifications of human desires and Egoism.
4) Buddhism also treats snakes in great esteem since they represent rebirth, death and mortality, due to their casting of skin which is symbolically treated as taking a rebirth and reaching “Nirvana”.
5) Until recently, western people had a misconception on India that It is a land of snake charmers. Even today, foreigners who visit the country are fascinated by the snake charmers who may be sitting in front of temples with snakes.
Snake worship in ancient cultures
1) Studies say that the ancient Mesopotamian and Semite people believed that the snake had no death because its shedding skin and re-appearing in a new birth.
2) There are plenty of evidences in ancient cultures of Egypt, Greek, China, India, etc. for worshipping snakes. There are abundant mythological stories in those cultures, associated with snakes.
3) Just I want to give a hint about the beginning of The Bible with the cheating story of the snake in the garden of Eden and Moses lifting a bronze snake in a desert. “So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived”. (Number: 21:9)
The snake story of worship goes longer than the longest snake. Snake had great influence and significance in human history. Even today, many Hindus believe that misfortunes and ill omens can be removed by performing a “Snake Pooja”.