By Taniya Dutta
The mere sight of a scorpion can sent jitters to many but a section of devotees in India not only worships the venomous arachnids but also let them crawl on their bodies in the hope of getting good health and luck.
Devotees including women and children as young as four year old, from a small village in Karnataka in southern India worship scorpion Goddess Kondammai.
Every year on the auspicious day as per Hindu calendar, they trek for miles to reach the temple and offer milk, coconut and oil to the idol.
After prayers, they feed milk to the venomous scorpions that crawl in abundance under the rocks and stones in and around temple premises. They then pick them up and keep them on their head and arms and face.
Surprisingly, the children, who would otherwise be asked to stay at least a meter away from the eight-leg predators, are also encouraged by their parents to pick them up and let them rest on their faces, tongues, shoulders and hands as they think their courage will impress the goddess.
“We have no fear of the scorpions biting and killing us as we have faith in the goddess. We have been following this tradition every year and no one has ever heard of someone dying from the scorpion sting him in the temple premises,” said Shiva, one of the devotees.
The age-old tradition stems from the belief that the goddess would save them if the scorpion bites.
Babu Siddapur, the priest at the temple believes that the ritual is several decades old and there has been not a single case of accidental sting or death.
He says: “This is only God’s miracle that scorpions do not sting the devotees. There has been no injury or death reporter ever and this has further instilled more faith among people and more and more people have started coming to the temple in recent years.”