Writer: Dr. Oishimaya Sen Nag
“Love me or hate me, you can never ignore me.” Perhaps if a snake could speak to us, these would be its first words. Snakes have both fascinated and frightened humans since time immemorial, and our relationship with these reptilians has always been very complex. Cultures across the world have used snakes to symbolize both good and evil and organized events and festivals to commemorate the same. In the Indian subcontinent, the Hindu festival of Nag Panchami is one such celebration of the unique human-serpent bond, and this year, a group of young, enthusiastic snake conservationists from Nepal harnessed the opportunity provided by this festival to promote snake conservation.
A first of its kind, the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) was held on August 20 and 21 in Kawasoti, Nawalpur District of Nepal, to promote human-snake co-existence, not only through festivities but also through science. The following photo story covers the happenings of this festival, which is a true inspiration for others to follow. Given the high number of snake bite-related deaths in countries like Nepal and India, often resulting from a lack of awareness about snake identification and behavior and snake bite treatment, such festivals are the need of the day.