A sand boa can bring a shower of money, literally, but only for those who catch this snake and sell it illegally. The condition applied is the snake should be more than 3.5kg, otherwise it cannot be the part of what can be termed as the gruesome and heinous superstitious ritual.
In the wake of a theft of a non-poisonous red sand boa from the Byculla zoo, the superstitions surrounding sand boa and another snake, earth boa, are coming to surface. “The code word for this ritual in Marathi is ‘Baheracha Karne.’ What is neededin the ritual is an albino tortoise, nails of an owl and the boa, which weighs more than 3.5kg. Now the most important part is that it is difficult to get a sand boa which is more than 3.5kg. This scarcity makes the boa invaluable. For example, I get two to three calls from unknown persons who are ready to offer money, right from Rs10 lakh to Rs20 lakh,” said Rituraj Joshi, of Nisarg Trust, an NGO working in Thane district.
According to Ulhas Thakur, a snake rescuer from Navi Mumbai, he has received offers of up to Rs50 lakhs. “People are mad. I mean it. I really do not understand how they believe in such superstitions,” said Thakur.
Explaining how ritual takes place, he mentioned that, it is believed by people that killing a boa and a tortoise will bring the rain of money, or will lead them to the hidden treasure or bring good luck in the business. “Killing boa is the most disgusting part, as it has to be killed by the nails of an owl, under some random slogan chanting. The person who checks on all the proceedings is known as ‘Tester,” said Joshi.
Avinash Patil, executive president of MaharashraAndhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti mentioned that, though such cruelties against the animals are punished under the wild life acts, there is a need to have a strong law. “The anti-superstition bill can be of great help on curbing such activities,” said Patil.