Indian members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are in a fury over the Hindu festival Naga Panchami.

Each year, millions of Hindus across India gather in their local communities to pay tribute to the serpent god, Nag Devta. Though it is a fun and spiritual event that attracts both adults and children, there is a fundamental problem. Snake collectors and snake charmers bent on earning some dough prepare for the event by capturing snakes, after-which the reptiles are “kept in suffocating bags or tiny boxes and starved, have their teeth violently yanked out, or their mouths painfully sewn shut, and are bought into the cities,” reports the Times of India.

The men then bring these snakes to the festival and try to exhibit or sell them—both of which are illegal as per the Wildlife Protection Act enacted by India in 1972. “Snake charming does not pay tribute to these fascinating reptiles; it tortures them,” said PETA India representative Madhuri Deshmakh. “We urge members of the public to express their compassion for these tormented animals by reporting snake collectors and snake charmers to the authorities.” Regardless of PETA’s attempts to circumvent them, the charmers relentlessly continue to slither around the festival. It’s a tragic situation, as these men are desecrating what’s meant to be a holy day. They should be giving reverence to snakes, not torturing them for profit.

(news source