Nag Panchami

Hindu mythology poses significant importance in the cobras and Nag Panchami is the festival in which Nagas (cobras) are worshipped. The festival, known to many as Guga-Navami is celebrated in the month of Shravana (July/August).

One of the other reasons for the celebration of Nag Panchami round this time is attributed to the fact that due to heavy rains during monsoon, the holes get filled and the snakes come out thereby posing a threat to humans. The celebration of this festival and the worship of the nagas could well be to pacify these snakes and reduce the threat they pose to humans.

Significance of Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami is one of the many festivals celebrated by Hindus in a year. Hinduism is a religion wherein the forces and powers of nature are worshipped. Nag Panchami is celebrated every year in the month of Shravan on the fifth day from the new moon night.

Another reason for celebrating this festival during these months is the presence of monsoon during that time. During heavy rains in monsoon, snakes are forced to come out of their holes and wander, thereby posing a threat to humans. Worshipping snakes this time is done to pacify these snakes and discourage them from posing a threat to mankind. On Nag Panchami, clay icons of the cobras are brought home and are fed milk and worshipped.

Reason of Celebrating Nag Panchami

The day nag Panchami is celebrated has its own significance in Hindu mythology. It is believed that it was on this day when Lord Krishna was victorious over the evil snake, Kaliya thereby saving the people from his harassment and torture. If the Hindu mythology is to be believed, Krishna got his ball stuck on a tree while he was playing by the banks of River Yamuna. Krishna was still a child then and fell into the river while trying to fetch the ball. It is at this time that the evil snake attacked lord Krishna only to find out later that he was no ordinary person. Kaliya, the evil snake pleaded for forgiveness and promised not to disturb and harass people from then on. This day is celebrated as Krishna, the Hindu God emerged victorious over the evil Kaliya.

Tradition on Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami or Guga-Navami is a festival wherein many rituals are followed. This festival is celebrated mainly in Southern India wherein young ladies visit their parents’ homes and swing on trees all day. Snakes are fed milk and honey along with turmeric and saffron. Flowers are also offered to them.

In Shirale, which is about 400 km from Mumbai, people catch live snakes a week ahead of the festival. Snakes are properly fed milk and rats and they are worshipped until the final day when they are bought in the temple and the priest performs Puja and the snakes are fed with milk and honey. Shirale is one place where people turn out in large number in order to be a part of the festivities of Nag Panchami.

Information Essential for Tourist

India is often regarded as the land of snakes and snake charmers. Snakes are worshipped in this country and the mythology of Hinduism imposes great significance with snakes. Shirale, in Maharashtra is a place where tourists turn out in large numbers as Nag Panchami is celebrated rather enthusiastically here.  The Nagathamman temple in Tamil Nadu, Hardjeva temple in Jaipur and Adishesha temple in Andhra Pradesh are other places where this festival is celebrated widely and the rich cultural biodiversity can be seen.

Way of Worshipping Snakes in Different States of India

Times have changed and so have the methods of worship. No longer do people dig the earth and offer milk and rice to the snakes. People do not make idols of the cobra and worship them. The festival, although celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the country, has new methods of celebration those which reflect the tradition of that region.
The snake is supposed to be wound round the neck of Lord Shiva, one of the most prominent gods in Hindu Mythology. Regarded as the Destroyer, Lord Shiva is believed to be quite short tempered and can ruin people’s lives if they infuriate him. In order to please Lord Shiva, people worship the cobra.

The ways and means of celebrating a certain festival differ from place to place. In Maharashtra for example, people visit houses with a cobra and ask for alms in the name of Nag Panchami. In Kerala, people visit snake temples and worship the deities there. Some people worship snakes so that the snake does not hurt them and their families.

The Maidens have their own interests in worshipping cobras. They worship the nag so that they are bestowed with well-to-do husbands and have a prosperous life ahead. It is believed that snakes have a sharp memory and they remember faces of people clearly. People always refrain from hurting snakes or it is believed that they harass those people or even their families.

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