Legend has it that a priest of the temple of Cheng Khong Choi Su, who rescued a python from hooligans, thus took the first snake back to his religious community on Penang Island, Malaya.
Legend has it that a priest of the temple of Cheng Khong Choi Su, who rescued a python from hooligans, thus took the first snake back to his religious community on Penang Island, Malaya. For the python, which was being killed brutally for its tasty meat and valuable skin, followed him gratefully into the temple and, over the years, devotedly begot its young there and brought its friends into the sanctuary.
Legend may not be well authenticated here, but it is certain to this day that the pilgrims of many religions who visit the Snake Temple, believe the animals to be connected with power of Good -- contrary to the usual personification of the snake as Evil -- and capable of revealing divine thoughts.
Penang Snake Temple, built by confucians in honour of Cheng Khong Choi Su, a benefactor, is situated about seven miles from Georgetown, the island's main city, at the village of Ayer Hitam. Pilgrims in their thousands make the trip from Georgetown and stay one or two nights, taking their children in the Chinese New Year in particular. They take with them gifts of eggs, which the snakes eat in the cool air of evening, when they have recovered from the drowsy effects of incense, which keeps them in a half-doped state throughout the day.
Inside the temple, snakes drape themselves from bushes, climb trees and walls and loll in wells. Wild snakes which come in from the jungle are often taken in by the priests, to add to the community. Every Saturday, they are gathered together by a priest for their weekly "bath", when spray from a water pipe is rained down upon these strangely revered reptiles.