The recent rains in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh engendered a series of snake bite deaths in the rural areas. Many of the victims are farmers, who were bitten while working in the fields. Hence, in a move to keep a check on snakes, the temple authorities of Sri Subramanyeshwara Swamy temple at Mopidevi are set to organise 'Sarpa Shanti Homam'.
The ritual, is being organised by Andhra Pradesh Endowments Department.
As heavy rains force venomous snakes out of their lair, they venture into fields. According to reports, there were nearly 40 deaths in the area due to snake bites.
According to the temple superintendent Madhu Sudhan, the homam will be held on August 29 from 8.00 am to 12 pm. The ritual will be attended by as many as 10 to 15 priests, along with local worshippers.
“The Lord Subramanyeshwaraswamy at Mopidevi is believed to be the god of snakes and can get rid them of the 'curse',” said Madhu Sudhan.
Explaining the purpose behind the ritual, he said, “This Shanti homam is being done following concerns of the rising death of the farmers. When many approached us to organise such an event, we approached officials, who granted permission. Besides, it is not an expensive affair.”
Temple authorities claim that the ritual will be performed per the request of the farmers and others in the wake of growing snakebite deaths.
When asked about Sarpa Shanti Homam at Mopidevi temple, Krishna District Collector Lakshmi Kantham, while distancing himself from the event, told TNM, "The homam (ritual) is being organised by temple authorities."
Rationalists, on the other hand, are finding fault with the decision to hold Sarpa shanti homam instead of organising awareness campaigns. Speaking to TNM, All India Peoples Science Network National vice-president T Ramesh said, "Snakes don't curse or intent to take revenge on anyone; they react only to defend themselves if they sense a threat, otherwise they move away."
He added, "The government must organise awareness campaigns on the instant procedures to be followed if a person is bitten. Such information will help reduce the loss of lives. And, all local PHCs must be equipped with anti-venom drugs and have the staff to act swiftly on such cases."
Collector Lakshmi Kantham said that the officials are taking all the measures to prevent snake bites and the required anti-venom drugs are also stocked at hospitals. However, there were several reports of a dearth of anti-venom drugs at the local primary health centres.