In India, getting bitten by a snake seen as good luck

Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:14pm EDT
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Scores of devotees thronged the temple of Veer Teja, a legendary folk hero, in Tonk town of India's northwestern Rajasthan state on Wednesday to celebrate a unique snake festival.

Devotees sang and danced to the sounds of drums and instruments holding snakes in their hands and receiving their bites, which is believed to bring good fortune

During the festivals, devotees willingly received snake bites that are believed to cure ailments and bring good fortune.

"This festival is celebrated since ancient times. Huge crowd gather to mark the festival of Tejaji. People come from far off lands and locals in huge numbers gather here to be a part of the festivities. During the festival, devotees receive snake bites, but nothing happens to the person," said a devotee, Lakshmi.

Hundreds of devotees from around the country visit Rajasthan to witness the festival each year.

"People from the entire district have gathered here to celebrate the festival. People from nearby places have assembled here. Devotees also travel 300 kilometers to celebrate the festival. It is a belief that if you receive a snake bite, your diseases will get cured," said another devotee.

Veer Teja or Tejaji was a legendary Rajasthani folk hero, also considered to be one of the major eleven incarnations of Lord Shiva and worshipped as a deity in rural Rajasthan.

It is widely believed that offering prayers to serpents would help devotees attain salvation. As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that people who have negative stars in their birth chart should pour milk on snakes and release them into forests.