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Married to a Snake

Near the Orissa state capital Bhubaneswar in India, Bimbala Das wore a silk saree while Hindu priests chanted a mantra for the wedding ceremony. The groom, a cobra that lives in a nearby ant hill, failed to attend the ceremony. A specially prepared brass serpent stood in for the real groom. Das, who is 30, had been very ill until she began taking milk to the cobra. She credited the snake with her healing and fell in love with her benefactor. The villages welcomed the wedding as a sign of good fortune and made a great feast on the wedding day. Das has moved to a hut close to the ant hill where her "husband" lives. Hinduism venerates snakes and especially King Cobra who is worn by Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. Das is not the first woman to marry an animal with the blessings of the Hindu priests. Earlier this year, a woman in the area was married to a dog. The brass serpent was used in the Bible for the healing of the disobedient Israelites (Numbers 21:4-9). However, when the Israelites later made an idol out of the brasen serpent, it became a sin to them and Hezekiah destroyed it. He called it Nehushtan, meaning, a piece of brass (2Kings 18:4).