It is really unbelievable – it is strange to even think of a place where people live with snakes and are not scared of them even a bit. Such a village exists in Maharashtra! Shetpal – a village in India where people practically live with snakes is a real place near Pune, Maharashtra. Yes, really!
Shetpal is roughly 200kms from Pune, Maharashtra is the land of snake charmers. Due to the region’s dry and arid environment, loads and loads of snakes of different varieties freely roam the village. In fact, the villagers find them to be their family and welcome them inside their homes every day (some snakes live inside their homes so, in that case, it’s vice-versa)!
The village that is located in Sholapur district worships snakes of all kinds every single day. Nobody knows how this practice originated in this village with a small population of around 2500.
Whenever the villagers build a new home, they make sure that there is a special ‘hollow’ created for the resting of these snakes. This ‘hollow’ is known as devasthan. And not just any snakes – here we are talking about deadly cobras! These reptiles wander freely in the homes of the villagers and the villagers never harm them. They are not even scared! They consider the presence of a very large amount of snakes as a blessing from God.
What more? Even the children play with the snakes! It is very common to find snakes in the schools and classrooms of children, as if they were just another animal. Eerie for us isn’t it?
There is a temple called Siddeshwar temple in the village where those who are bitten by these snakes are cured as the locals believe that the deity has the power to do so. The temple has the copper idol of a seven-hooded cobra over Lord Shiva. However, the villagers claim that not a single case of snake-bite has been reported so far!
In Indian mythology, naga or the snake is considered to be sacred and it symbolises Lord Shiva. The serpent is also known as the symbol of fertility. It also represents birth, rebirth and death primarily due to the shedding of its skin. Shesha, the divine serpent who is Ganesha’s vahan in one of his eight incarnations and Lord Vishnu is known to have done Yog Nidra while sitting on the serpent. There are other snakes mentioned in Hindu mythology, like Astika who is half Brahmin-half snake and Vasuki who is the king of the nagas.
Should you decide to visit this village, the nearest railway station will be Modnimb and the nearest airport shall be Pune. But will you ever dare to visit this village?
There is one thing that is important to note when we talk about Shetpal. There have been claims of snakes being abused in this village and allegations of the mouths of these snakes being sewed so they cannot bite the villagers.
A concerned citizen who runs a small whistle-blowing campaign going by the name of ‘SCAM’ has raised some issues. He says, “Snakes are reptiles, not mammals to drink milk. No reptile can digest milk, and it’s toxic. Snakes are emotional creatures, they get aggressive when they feel a threat, likewise they remain calm too depending on the situation. But snakes are definitely not pets. Snakes belong to wildlife, and are protected under Indian Wildlife (Protection) act 1972. Cobras, Pythons, Sand Boa’s, or every snake is on the endangered list.
Apart from stitching snakes’ mouths, cruel snake charmers tend to remove snake fangs and cut out their venom sac. As a result, snakes starve to death as they cannot eat anything because of broken fangs. Snakes are not vengeful, and please don’t spread rubbish about 12 years revenge as glamorized in movies. Also, snakes don’t carry diamonds, don’t even fantasize about getting rich chasing snakes because of diamonds.
Rat, Grass, Water snakes are mostly non-venomous, and they are rodent eating snakes. There is illiteracy about snakes, no experience about snake handling, superstition, and the creatures falling prey to snake charmers foul acts. Snakes are mostly traded for leather, food, medicine. Some even trade snakes as pets or claiming to be auspicious to bring fortunes and wealth. Please don’t trade, it doesn’t bring wealth but warrants you to go behind bars.”
We do not know whether snakes are being abused in Shetpal or not, but it is better to know two sides of a coin.
Preview Photo: absoluteindialocations.com