Indian Cobra (Naja naja) - Wiki
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[Photo] Indian cobra, Naja naja. Source:Saleem Hameed . Date Jan 2002. Author Saleem Hameed
The Indian Cobra or Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja), also known as an Asian Cobra, is a species of venomous snake native to the Indian subcontinent. It is the most famous of the Big Four, the four most poisonous snakes of India for which a single polyvalent antivenom has been created. Like other cobras, the Indian cobra is famous for its threat display involving raising the front part of its body and spreading its hood.
On the rear of this hood are two circular ocelli patterns connected by a curved line, evoking the image of spectacles. An average cobra is about 1 meter in length and rarely as long as 2 meters (6 feet). The spectacle pattern on the hood is very variable as also the ground colour of the snake.
Cobras normally feed on rodents and their normal habitat includes open forest and farmland. They are however also able to thrive in cities, living on rodents in the sewers and underground drains. Oriental Ratsnakes are often mistaken for cobras; however these are much longer and can easily be told apart by the stronger ridged appearance of their body.
Indian cobras are oviparous and lay their eggs between the months of April and July. Females lay from 12 to 30 eggs in a underground nest and the eggs hatch 48 to 69 days later. Newborns cobras measure between 8 and 12 inches (20-30 cm). Newly hatched cobras have fully functional glands.
In religion and mythology
In India, the spectacled cobra is much respected and feared, and even has its own place in Hindu mythology as a powerful deity. The Hindu god Shiva is often depicted with a protective cobra coiled around his neck. Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, is usually portrayed as reclining on the coiled body of Sheshnag, the Preeminent Serpent, a giant snake deity with multiple cobra heads.
There are numerous myths about cobras in India, including the idea that they mate with ratsnakes.
Naag Panchami- Naag PanchamiNaag Panchami or festival of King Cobra is a unique festival dedicated to honor the Serpent God or Naag Devta. Falling on the fifth day of Shravan in July/August, reverence for the King Cobras are paid.
Naag Panchami in Hindu Mythology- Fairly widespread before the Aryan invasion, worshipping of King Cobra or Nag Devta was later incorporated into Hinduism by the Aryan themselves. Hindu Mythological books are famously filled with stories, fables and pictures of King Cobra.
Lord Vishnu's couch is the green, thousand-headed King Cobra (Ananta or Sesha) who could hold up the earth. Lord Shiva wears a King Cobra for ornamental purpose. Even Lord Krishna is called "Kaliya Mardan" to commemorate his victory over the giant Cobra, Kaliya.
A farmer while tilling his land incidentally killed some young serpents. The serpent took revenge by biting all members of the farmer's family except his daughter, who worshipped King Cobra.This devotional act of the girl resulted in revival of her family. So on the day of Naag Panchami, tilling of land is forbidden. Snake worship is however believed to have originated due to man's natural fear of reptiles.
Celebration of Naag Panchami- Naag Panchami One of the oldest and auspicious festivals, women fast on this day. Also, women draw pictures and images of snakes on walls of their houses with a mixture of cowdung, milk and black powder. Offerings of milk, ghee, sweets, water and rice are also made at the sites of snake holes. Devotees consider themselves lucky if snakes drink offered milks. Naag panchami is observed and celebrated in different ways in various parts of India.
It is mainly observed in Southern India, Maharashtra and Bengal. In Gujarat, Jodhpur, huge cloth effigies of the serpents are displayed at major fairs. Also in W.Bengal and parts of Assam and Orissa, the snake deity worshipped on Naga Panchami is the goddess Manasa. In Kerala, huge crowds throng snake temples on this day to worship stone or metal icons of the cosmic serpent Ananta or Sesha.
The Indian cobra's celebrity comes from its popularity as a snake of choice for snake charmers. The cobra's dramatic threat posture makes for a unique spectacle as it appears to sway to the tune of a snake charmer's flute. Snake charmers with their cobras in a wicker basket are a common sight in many parts of India. The cobra, of course, is deaf to the snake charmer's pipe, but follows the visual cue of the moving pipe and it can sense the ground vibrations from the snake charmer's tapping foot.
The Indian cobra's venom contains a powerful post-synaptic neurotoxin. The venom acts on the synaptic gaps of the nerves, thereby paralyzing muscles, and possibly leading to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. The venom components include enzymes such as hyaluronidase that cause lysis and increase the spread of the venom. Symptoms of cobra envenomation can begin from 15 minutes to two hours after the bite, and can be fatal in less than an hour. The Indian Cobra is one of the Big four (most dangerous venomous snakes of India) and a polyvalent serum is available for treating snakebites by these snakes. Despite its fearsome reputation, only 10% of the bites in humans result in death.
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