Nag Panchami- The Day of Snake Worship
Nag Panchami is an important festival in India & Nepal and other Hindu countries – a day when the snakes & serpents are worshipped. It is celebrated during the Shravan month of Hindu calendar, on the fifth day from Amavasya. The day is also known as Manasa Devi Ashtanga Puja after Manasa Devi, the snake goddess and the sister of the great snake, Vasuki who played an important role in amrita manthan. On Nag Panchami, Mansa Devi and Ashta Nag are worshipped. Devotees who worship snakes on this day are said to get protection from snake bites. Serpent deities made of wood, stone or silver are bathed with milk and worshipped on this day.
It is also celebrated as Garuda Panchami. Garuda is the royal eagle which is a natural enemy of snakes. Worshipping Lord Garuda on this day helps in getting protection from snake bites and other related ailments.
Significance of Nag Panchami
Revered Indian scriptures such as Narada Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana and Mahabharata give historical details of extolling worship of snakes
According to Sarpa Shastra, King Janamejya (who was furious as well as saddened by his father, King Parikshit’s death due to snake bite by the Snake King, Takshaka) performed a yagya before setting out to destroy all snakes and serpents as an act of revenge. Fearing the destruction of Naga clan, the Nagas went to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe who assured them that they would be worshipped as Gods by coming generations because of a great soul called Asthika. This is the reason snakes are worshipped on Nag Panchami during the Shukla Paksha Panchami during the Shravan month. This story also finds mention in the epic Mahabharata.
In Bhavishyottara Purana, Lord Shiva narrated the story behind celebrating Nag Panchami to Goddess Parvati. According to the story, a farmer accidentally killed a baby snake while digging his field with a shovel. Enraged, the mother of the baby snake killed the entire family of the farmer including the farmer. Still blinded by revenge, she decided to kill the farmer’s married daughter who lived in another village. On reaching there, she found the young lady worshipping Nag Devta. Pleased with her worship, the snake mother spared the daughter’s life and forgave the farmer’s act bringing him and his family back to life.
It is also said to be the day when Lord Krishna killed Kaliya, the fierce snake.
According to Garuda purana, worshipping snakes on this day is considered to be auspicious and will usher good fortune in one’s life. This is to be followed by feeding Brahmins.
Astrologically, this day is said to be auspicious for performing shanti puja for Rahu & Ketu or Kal Sarpa Dosh Nivaran Puja. Shanti pujas on this day help in appeasing the planets and nullifying their malefic effects. Nag Panchami puja helps in nullifying the disturbances caused by the adverse influence of Rahu and Ketu. Nag Panchami puja helps in nullifying the nisantan yoga in childless couples.
Why worship snakes?
During the rainy season, the ground is water-logged and so the snakes and other serpents come out in the open. To get protection from snake bites, the ancient people started worshipping snakes to appease them and this ritual has continued since then.
Method of Worship
On the day of Nag Panchami, snakes and cobras are worshipped and are offered milk, sweets and flowers. Deities of snakes made of silver, stone or wood are bathed with water and milk (One can also use pictures of snakes instead of deities)and then worshipped by reciting the following mantra:
Naga preeta bhavanti shantimapnoti via viboh
Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samh
Translation: Let all be blessed by the snake goddess, let everyone obtain peace
Let all live peacefully without any turbulence.
Rituals for Nag Panchami
- Visit Lord Shiva temple and snake pits to offer prayers to the snakes.
- Observe fasting.
- Feed Brahmans.
- Ant hills may also be worshipped.
- No digging of fields or lawns should be done on this day as it may harm or kill the snakes residing in the Earth.
- Offer milk, turmeric and kumkum to the snake deities.
- Consume only boiled or steamed food during the day.
© 2017 Shaloo Walia