Monday, 8 August 2016

Here people play with Scorpions, Kandkur

 One woman holding a scorpion without fear. Kandkur.

In a big country like India where there are lots of villages, rural  people still depend on cows, oxen, goats, buffaloes, camels, etc. Mela or a fair is conducted once in a while where people or farmers gather in one place  and can trade the animals that are on display.  Cattle fairs are common in many districts in India, In Pushkar, Rajasthan,  the Camel fair is held on a grand scale  every year and it is internationally famous. By the bye, have ever heard of a fair for  the  predatory arachnids -  scorpions? Yes, there is one such a fair held in the Southern state of Karnataka in the northern part. Does it not sound odd? Does it not cause  nervelessness or uneasiness?
Facing a singer.

The name of the nondescript village is Kandkur village in Yadir district.  A strange but weird spectacle is,  not only do the people, including children become part of the  poojas conducted to the venomous stingers, but also allow them to crawl all over their bodies without any hesitation. The word fear doe not hang around there. On the auspicious day of  Naga Panchami or Nagara Pachami, the fair is held and the devotees catch the scorpions and put them over their bodies. Some crazy people go one step further and pop them into their mouths as if they were "coffee bites" or "Chocolate  gems". As for the  stingers, they  take a short break on the tongue inside the mouth. Then they take them out after a couple of minutes.  They do it with utter courage and faith and there is no  sign of fear or uneasiness. They feel as if some ants were crawling over their  bodies.

The unfortunate fact is many parents have allowed their children to play with such poisonous creatures, especially children below 10 years of age have to be extra careful. Knowing the health risk involved in such a fair, where young children's lives will be in threat, the state health department keeps a contingent of doctors ready with medicines, shots, etc in the Primary Health Care Centers to handle emergency cases. The doctors' warning to the  local people about the danger involved in handling scorpions has fallen on their  deaf ears and the people don't pay any attention to the warning.

This year's "Scorpion Fair" was held last Sunday (August 07, 2016) on Nagara Panchmi day. Surprisingly this year fair was well attended by  scorpion devotees from neighboring states. Before the resumption of the fair devotees go the village temple on the hill dedicated to Goddess  Konddammal, who is believed to be a scorpion goddess. Only after prayers and poojas, they catch the scorpions and dangle with them.  The belief is that the goddess will take  care of any bite.Yes, there has been no incidence of any sting or threat!!. Is it not really strange?

According to one man who has been to this fair before , if some body is stung by the stinger, the villagers apply a  herbal paste  with high proportion of turmeric on the affected area. So far no injuries, and no death caused by stingers!! That is good.

 It will be of some interest know that on this particular day - Naga Pachami  scorpions in thousands throng this place, which is a semi arid region. They are found near the temple. A few hours later, devotees catch them and offer to the deity here by way of pouring them over the idol. Amazingly, these stingers are not found any where here or in the vicinity on any other days. That, the scorpions come here in thousands on this particular day is a mystery that might need some explanation. No doubt, it is a strange, but scary place to go camping!!