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Nepal Snake Festival: Promoting Coexistence Between Humans and Snakes

Save The Snakes is proud to support Kamal Devkota and his team to mitigate human-snake conflict and save snakes in Nepal. Kamal Devkota is a snake expert and conservation biologist. Additionally, Kamal is a professional actor, who uses different forms of media and drama to change hearts and minds about snakes and broadcast important snake safety information across the country. Recently Kamal shared his team’s efforts to organize and implement the first Nepal Snake Festival. Please read and share!

Written and provided by wildlife conservationist Kamal Devkota:

The Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) was initiated with the aims and objectives to conduct the various awareness programs regarding biodiversity conservation primarily focusing on species of snakes, human-snake conflicts mitigation, snake conservation and snakebite management in Nepal.

Although this festival is initiated in 2023, most of the team members have decades of experiences with the expertise on snakes and snakebites. Our team has conducted numerous programs in collaboration with national and international conservation partner organizations. To date, our team has conducted more than hundred awareness and outreach programs, capacity building training, workshops and interaction programs in various districts of Nepal. Our major programs are “Save The Lives”, “Theatre in Education”, “Save Snakes Save Nature”, “Human-Snake Co-existence”, “Save The King”, “I Speak for Snake Conservation, and You?”, “Rescue and Relocation” etc. During this journey, for the first time we had collaborated with the Actors’ Studio Nepal in the drama Katha Kasturi (Snakebite) written by Nayanraj Pandey and Directed by Deeya Maskey. We also collaborated with Mandala Theatre-Nepal in Nepal International Theatre Festival (NITFest) 2022. We placed our awareness stall outside the drama hall and got very good feedbacks from audiences and visitors. We have distributed various educational materials to all the visitors.

The NSFest team is a group of young, enthusiastic and dedicated snake conservationists and snakebite expert’s team of Nepal. The NSFest was planned after having long experiences in this field to keep working together consistently. We have organized the first edition (Chapter 1) of Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) in Kawasoti, Nawalpur district from 20th – 21st August 2023 with the slogan “Promoting Co-existence between Humans and Snakes”.

It was expected around 1,000 people (500 each day) including school students and locals from different regions will visit our Nepal Snake Festival but more than 5,000 visitors (around 3,500 in the first day and around 2,000 in the second day) have visited and gained the knowledge from the festival.

The festival was featured by other allied events such as Various Awareness Stalls, Educational Documentary Shows, Face Painting, Cultural Dance Show, Drama Show, Museum Specimen of Snakes Display, Professional Snake Handling Methods, Puja and Mantra Chanting, Questions and Answers, Interviews, Poster Presentation, Herping, Photo Exhibitions, Art Competition Award Ceremonies etc. It was expected around 1,000 people (500 each day) including school students and locals from different regions will visit our Nepal Snake Festival but more than 5,000 visitors (around 3,500 in the first day and around 2,000 in the second day) have visited and gained the knowledge from the festival. Although most of the visitors were locals but the visitors from Jhapa (Eastern Nepal) to Kailali (Western Nepal) were also attended the festival. The representatives from Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), World Health Organization (WHO), Bheri Hospital and many others were also visited our programs.

This was probably the first of its kind in Nepal that we have organized the snake festival from which hundreds of people benefited which definitely may help to make a positive change in people’s perception towards snakes and overall biodiversity. In this 21st century, a creative way to educate people can fill an important role in education and we are practicing that. We believe that this program has a potential to create connections with our visitors/audiences and are powerful medium that can create awareness at a national level.

We would like to express our gratitude to the entire team of the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest Chapter 1) and all our supporters without whom it wouldn’t have been possible to make this happen.

Aims to Celebrate Nepal Snake Festival in Nagpanchami

Nagpamchami is a festival of faith and devotion. People have different stories and beliefs regarding Nagpanchami. Panchami is the fifth day among the fifteen days of the moon’s waxing and/or waning. The Nag Panchami always falls on the fifth day of the moon’s waning in the Lunar in the month of July/August. Nagpanchami is celebrated on the day of Shravan Shulkla Panchami. The eight serpents namely, Ananta, Basuki, Padma, Mahapadma, Takshak, Kulir, Karkat and Shankha, are worshiped on this day. In addition, Lord Shiva, who wears a snake, is also worshiped on this day.

Snakes have various importances such as ecological importance, medical importance, religious and cultural importance etc., therefore snakes are considered as farmer’s friend and life saver.

On the day of Nagpanchami, offering milk, curd, akshata, dubo, kush, sandalwood, flowers to the serpent deity, worshiping them, hanging a picture of Ashtanag on the door of the house with the help of cow dung, chanting mantras written on the picture of a snake or reciting the text of the Nagstrota is also done. Worshiping the snake on this special day is believed to prevent snakebite, prevent fear of fire and snakes, cure diseases, prevent lightening from hitting the house, and bring rain to crops. There is also a scientific fact that snakes do not digest milk (problems in the digestive process can lead to death) and milk is offered when a picture of a snake is placed on the door of a house, so there is also a religious belief that snakes do not enter through the door due to the smell of milk. Most of the people dislike snakes, are afraid of snakes or want to kill any snakes they encounter. On other days, when encounter, most of the people kill the snakes whatever the snake is either venomous or non-venomous due to fear of being bitten and due to lack of awareness but on this special day, people generally do not kill and try to avoid snakes.

Snakes have various importances such as ecological importance, medical importance, religious and cultural importance etc., therefore snakes are considered as farmer’s friend and life saver. We are going to celebrate the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) on the day of Nagpanchami every year with the aim of explaining these different importances of snakes and introducing our religious culture with scientific facts to the entire world.

About 26 districts of Nepal are considered to be highly affected by venomous snakebite. According to a recent study, many people are affected by snakebite in Nepal every year, some of whom die due to snakebite. It has been found that most of these incidents are due to lack of awareness about snakes and snakebites. As snakebite is preventable and treatable, if some basic things related to snakes and snakebites could be understood or explained, perhaps the lives of many people who died could have been saved.

We had celebrated the Nepal Snake Festival on the day of Nagpanchami to raise public awareness about how to avoid snakebite, recommended first aid for snakebite, dos/don’ts when bitten by a snake, symptoms of snakebite, species of snakes, misconceptions about snakes and snakebite, human-snake conflict mitigation, importance of snake conservation in biodiversity, how to contribute to snake conservation etc.

Objectives to celebrate NSFest and Nagpanchami
• To organize the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest – Chapter 1) for the first time in Nepal.
• To celebrate the Nagpanchami, not only in a cultural and religious way but also in a scientific way.
• To educate people about snakes, preventive measures from snakebite and recommended first aid methods.
• To promote co-existence between human and snakes by educating people through various programs.
1. Various Awareness Stalls: We have placed various awareness stalls to educate people.
• Snake Conservation Awareness Stall
• King Cobra Conservation Awareness Stall
• Snakebite Preventive Measures Awareness Stall
• Snakebite First Aid Awareness Stall
• Snakebite Management in Hospital Awareness Stall
2. Public awareness through educational documentary: We have showed the short educational videos films, like;
• Snakebite: Save The Lives
• Snake Rescue Methods and
• Snakes: Conservation and Importance
These educational films include the information about snake conservation/human-snake conflict mitigation/snake rescue/relocation/snakebite preventive measures etc. We believe these educational video films also attracted a wide diversity of people to watch the video in its entirety, as well as remembering the message long term.
3. T-shirt distribution for volunteers and a few guests:
4. Art and face painting:
5. Local Cultural Dance Show:
6. Museum Specimen of Snakes Display:
7. Professional Snake Handling Methods:
8. Inauguration of program by Chief Guest:
9. Puja and Mantra Chanting in group for Awareness:
10. Question/Answer:
11. Poster presentations from conservationists/researcher:
12. Herping: We have arranged a short herp tour at evening.
13. Art/Drawing Competition

Support Snake Conservation

Save The Snakes is proud to support Kamal and his team’s efforts to educate his community about snakes, protect threatened king cobras, and prevent snakebite in Nepal. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like Kamal’s snake conservation project in Nepal. Save The Snakes depends on the assistance of generous people like you to help fund international snake conservation efforts. Thank you for your support.

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