In India, there are snake charmers who use cobras in rituals:

The main ritual event of Nag Panchami is to offer milk and crystallized sugar to a cobra. As Premlata Vatsyayan writes, “On Nag Panchami one fasts and feeds milk or khir [rice pudding] to snakes. A white lotus flower is placed in a silver bowl. One then takes a brush made either of clay, wood, silver or gold, and using either turmeric or sandalwood paste draws the image of a five hooded snake on the floor. People then pray to this image”

Here is an unsourced image found widely on social media.

Picture of cobra head near milk

A 2019 Times of India article claims:

Snake charming comes with a death sentence to the serpents. They are on death row from the time they are captured from jungle hideouts and made to gulp down milk. But the fact is that charmers keep captive cobras dehydrated days before the drinking session. Cobras are pure carnivores and non-mammalians, who do not feed their hatchlings with milk. They are lactose intolerant. So, when cobras are given milk after a prolonged period of induced thirst, the serpents gulp it down to hydrate themselves. But it leads to an allergic reaction and snakes die, far away from the prying eyes of the law-enforcement agencies or the innocent eyes of the devout who had fed them milk in blissful ignorance.

Hindu.SE user, @Mr.Alien makes similar claims without references.

Are cobras allergic to milk (or lactose-intolerant)?

  • I think you may be asking the wrong question. A quick search reveals that they often take the snakes' fangs too, leaving them unable to feed at all. So maybe the milk delays their inevitable death, but they're going to starve to death anyway. May 27, 2021 at 10:36
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    I'm not posting what I've found as an answer because it might not match any more if you edit to improve the question. You also need to include at least one article that mentions the snakes being fed milk. May 27, 2021 at 10:41
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    @JeromeViveiros: You are making claims without references.
    – Oddthinking
    May 27, 2021 at 14:50
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    Your own links say that the snakes have been deprived of nutrition and teeth, are very weak, and will be used either for religious ceremony or charming tourists, and that the milk or lassis given is a religious custom. It is very unlikely to be intended to kill the snakes at the very moment they are needed alive, and as they are close to death anyway, whether they are lactose-intolerant is neither here nor there: soon they will be dead and their skins sold. And when a creature suffering from extreme thirst dies after drinking a large amount, it is shock that kills it, not intolerance. May 27, 2021 at 19:34
  • @Oddthinking I was referring to the same article you used to edit the Q. Was hoping the OP would edit the claim - forgot I can do so myself. May 28, 2021 at 12:34


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