Naga Panchami – Worshipping the Serpents
Naga Panchami is a Hindu festival which is dedicated to snakes or serpents and their gods, in particular Naga Deva. The name Naga Panchami is a combination of two Sanskrit words “Naga” and “Panchami”. “Naga” means “snake or serpent” and “Panchami” means “fifth lunar day”. As such, the festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the growing moon phase from July to August. The festival holds a special place for the worshippers of ShivaShiva
Shiva is one of the Supreme Gods of Hindu Trinity that ... as the deity is closely related to snakes and serpents as well. Naga Panchami is one of the most important festivals of India as well as Nepal, and worshippers celebrate the festival with great devotion and passion.
According to a legend once upon a time there was a very powerful sage named Manasa. She was the daughter of BrahmaBrahma
According to Hinduism, the whole creation is the work of Trimurti (the Hindu Trinity)... and a student of Shiva. Moreover, she was a great worshipper and devotee of VishnuVishnu
Vishnu is one of the Supreme Gods of Hindus and is a part of Hindu Trinity,... Later, she married Jaratkaru He was a very learned sage who was married to the snake Goddess named Manasa and with whom he parented Astika. She is believed to practice severe asceticism. He didn’t have any inclination towards getting married but he was asked to so by his forefathers as they were destined to go to hell in the absence of any child of Jaratkaru sage. The couple didn’t share any emotional bond. He only impregnated her for his forefathers and left her all alone to give birth and then raise a child all by herself. They were married only for the sage to perform his “husbandly duties”.
who was a great sage as well. They had a son named Aasthika. However, even before Aasthika was born, Jaratkaru left his family and went away. Eventually, their son was brought up by Manasa She is a Hindu folk serpent-Goddess who is worshipped majorly in Bengal and various north-east parts of India. She is worshipped for protection from snake-bites and long and prosperous life. She was married to a sage named Jaratkaru and with him she parented a son named Astika. She is depicted as a woman covered with snakes and sitting on a lotus. On her head, seven cobras make a hood-like structure. She is also known as the one-eyed goddess. She is mostly worshipped without an image, rather a branch of tree or an earthen pot or a snake image is used as her symbol and is offered prayers.
alone. Like her mother, he studied under Brahma and Shiva as well.
During that time Janamejaya was the king. His father Raja Prikshit died of a snake bite, precisely by a snake named Takshaka. In order to avenge his father’s death, Janamejaya organized a yajnacalled SarpaSatra, a ritual ceremony and offering to the deities by sacrificing snakes. Eventually, the yajna started and snakes started to fall and die into the fire of the yajna. All the snakes met the same fate except Takshaka. He did not appear to the yajna at all. At that point of time he was circling around the throne of Indra, the king of gods, in the heaven. As soon as Janamejaya got to know that Indra was protecting Takshaka, he along with the saints started chanting mantras due to which Indra’s throne came started to levitate and began approaching the yajna’s fire. All the gods were terrified and approached Brahma to seek help in order to save Indra. Brahma told them that they should go to Manasa as she would help them. When the gods approached Manasa she told them that only her son Aasthika could help in saving Indra. Then, Manasa told her son to save Indra by stopping the Yajna. Aasthika did as he was told by his mother and rescued Indra and prevented the killing of all snakes of the world. Later, the snakes blessed Manasa and Aasthika for saving them and granted them the boon that whoever would listen to their story will be protected from snake bites, become free from the fear of snakes and will be blessed by the serpent gods themselves. The day when the yajna was stopped happened to be Nandivardhana Panchami, which was the fifth day of the growing moon phase of the monsoon season during July to August. Hence, the festival of Naga Panchami became prominent since that time.
People who celebrate Nag Panchami are supposed to wake up early in the morning and bathe by taking a dip in a nearby pond or river. Later, the devotees go to a temple with idols of serpent gods or offer prayers to the holes or pits of snakes. Vermilion, turmeric powder, lamps made of clay, milk, fruits sweets are offered to them. Many people worship serpent gods by making an idol of a snake in their homes with silver, stone, wood or paints. The idols and images are first bathed with water and milk and then worshipped. One of the most popular rituals is the offering of lotus flower to Naga Deva Though in Hinduism, Devas are considered Gods, in Jainism they are supernatural beings who are more powerful and happier than humans. They also live longer but are not worshipped. They cannot be seen by humans and can create illusions and can take various forms of loving beingsin a silver bowl. A colorful image and pattern of a five hooded snake is made and lotus flower and prayers are offered to the deities. The most fervent devotees and worshippers of the serpent gods and Shiva observe fast for the whole day. It is also important for the devotees to not to dig ground or do farming on Naga Panchami as it is considered a way of destroying snakes’ homes.
Beliefs and Significance
It is a widely popular belief that people who worship serpent gods on Naga Panchami are protected from snake bites, fear of snakes and all that is evil in the world. A very common belief is that women who are childless should offer prayers to serpent gods on this day to get their blessings and have children. It is also considered auspicious for anyone to see snakes in their dreams on this day, as it is believed to bring about enormous wealth for that person. Worshipping the serpent gods with purity and sincerity is believed to remove the Kala Sarpa Dosha in a person’s kundali, which, in turn, is believed to remove all the obstacles and hindrances in one’s life from gaining success and making progress. Naga Panchami symbolizes the respect, humility and affection one should maintain with the nature and its beings, and oneself for the proper functioning and balance of the world.