AFP June 2, 2006

CHARMED WOMAN MARRIES COBRABHUBANESWAR, India – A woman who fell in love with a snake has married the reptile at a traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests in India’s Orissa state, reports said. Bimbala Das wore a silk saree for the ceremony Wednesday at Atala village near the Orissa state capital Bhubaneswar. Priests chanted mantras to seal the union, but the snake failed to come out of a nearby ant hill where it lives, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said on Friday. A brass replica snake stood in for the hesitant groom. “Though snakes cannot speak nor understand, we communicate in a peculiar way,” Das, 30, told the agency. “Whenever I put milk near the ant hill where the cobra lives, it always comes out to drink. “I always get to see it every time I go near the ant hill. It has never harmed me,” she added. Villagers welcomed the wedding in the belief it would bring good fortune and laid on a feast for the big day. Snakes and particularly the King Cobra are venerated in India as religious symbols worn by Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. Das, from a lower caste, converted to the animal-loving vegetarian Vaishnav sect whose local elders gave her permission to marry the cobra, the world’s largest venomous snake that can grow up to five metres. “I am happy,” said her mother Dyuti Bhoi, who has two other daughters and two sons to marry off. “Bimbala was ill,” Bhoi told local OTV channel. “We had no money to treat her. Then she started offering milk to the snake … she was cured. That made her fall in love.” Das has moved into a hut built close to the ant hill since the wedding. Earlier this year, a tribal girl was married off to a dog on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

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