The Jhapan Mela is organized as a part of the worship of the Goddess of Snake, Manasa and celebrated by the agrarian tribes as well as the local residents alike with much fanfare and enthusiasm. It is celebrated in parts of West Bengal, in and around Kolkata and in Bishnupur in the district of Bankura.
It is believed that Goddess-Manasa dominates all the large serpents on earth with her ultimate power and authority. The way in which the Goddess is worshipped by the tribes is also uniquely different though the admiration and devotion for the goddess are alike all over.
During the Jhapan Mela festival, women especially devotees observe a strict fast and offer milk to the snakes in their vicinity and the temples close by. Though you will observe that there is an absence of any imagery of the goddess, devotees are seen flocking the snake charmers to pay obeisance to the goddess.
Manasa Devi is seen as a mother goddess who is known for curing snakebites and other deadly diseases like a small box and chicken pox and hence there is the special significance of the rituals followed as a part of the worship. The deity is also honoured for opulence and fertility in villages and towns where the festival is celebrated with much fervor.
In some places, fishermen take snakes for a bath in the river close to their area along with the procession of the deity of Manasa Devi made of clay, while singing scared songs and chanting mantras. Some devotees even pray to trees or an earthen pot.
Apart from these ceremonies, the snake charmers locally also known as Jhampanias get most of the attention during the Mela. With poisonous snakes like cobras, vipers and pythons they showcase various tricks during the festival time, which is in line with the name of the Mela, which literally means a stage, which has been setup to exhibit tracks with snakes.