Celebration of Nag Panchami
Nag Panchami is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India .
The history of this festival is associated with various interesting stories. The worshipping of the snakes is known to be in practice from the Naga clan. The Naga clan is observed to be in existence since the ancient times, and was known to be a highly developed clan. Evidence of worship of snakes has been found in that period of time as well. Traces of worshipping snakes can also be seen in the times of Mahabharata. Shesh Nag, Lord Vishnus resting couch is also associated with the festival of Nag Panchami. Lord Shiva keeps a snake around his neck another association of god with snakes. The Indian culture has uncountable numbers of mythological stories attached to the history of celebrating Nag Panchami.
2. Mythological significance of the festival Nag Panchami
This festival has rich mythological overtones, starting from the tremendous victory of Lord Krishna over the huge Kaliya in the Yamuna River. We have a further reference to Seshnag, the king of serpents, who was tamed by Lord Vishnu, as pictured in Ananda Padmanabha temple in Trivandrum of Kerala. The deity in the temple is Lord Vishnu, sleeping on the body of Seshnag. No wonder, the Keralites deem Nag Punchami as a huge festival and adore snakes on the day with piety. It is also considered as paying homage to Manasa, the serpent Goddess sister of Vasuki, the Snake who was used as a rope by the Devas and Asuras to churn the Milky Ocean. Nag Puja is carried out in Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa in reverence of all snakes which have such a magnificent role in mythology. In Punjab, people celebrate Manasa Devi Ashtanag Puja (Guga Navami) by making a huge snake from flour and worshipping it.
It is not only with Lord Vishnu, the greatness of snakes is associated it is also with Lord Shiva which is a very clear transparent concept, since it is the snake around the neck of Lord Shiva which inspires awe and piety on the very first look of the deity. Moreover in the Puranas, there is a reference to Brahma son wife as the mother of all nags.There is also a mythological story about a goddess Sathyeshwari, whose brother Sathyeshwar died before the day of Nag Panchami. She grieved over the death of her brother without eating anything. She saw her brother in the form of a cobra and believed that it was her brother. So, Nagdev promised her that he would protect any woman who deems a cobra as her brother and worships it. Hence, it became the habit of Hindu women to worship snakes for the longevity and safety of their brothers on this day.
Nag Panchami holds a very important place in the hearts of devotees. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm all across the country and in Nepal. There are various temples where Nag Panchami is celebrated with devotion. People are seen offering (Bhog) food and milk to pictures or idols of snakes. Many people also offer milk directly to snakes in order to make them happy and receive their blessings. People are witnessed dancing and carrying snakes, kept in pots, on their heads. A strong belief is that by keeping the Snake God happy one can seek his blessing and stay safe from his demonic anger.
4. Nag Panchami A mix of faith and superstition
NAGPUR The myths may have been busted and laws grown more stringent, but worship of snakes on the fifth day of Shravan month remains mandatory for the believers. The reason for this is that snakes occupy a very significant space in Hindu mythology. The scriptures treat snakes as a community as there is a mention of nag lok, says astrologer and economist KapilChandrayan. Being residents of patallok they are considered to be part of shrishti and have been worshipped by Hindus for protection of their kul (family), he adds. Being part of the ornamentation of Shiv who is extensively worshipped in the month of Shravan, snakes are also worshipped during the sarvaangpuja offered during this period.But most significantly worship of snakes gets prominence in modern astrology because they are considered as rahu and ketu. The head of a snake is rahu and the tail ketu. If all other planets are caught between the head and the tail in a horoscope then it is termed as kaal sarp yog, says Chandrayan and adds that Nag Panchami is the most significant day for performing a kalsarp yog puja.
5. Special Pujas
Prayers are offered at Naga temples, sacred places with idols of Nagas and at anthills. Almost all villages in India have a sacred place for snakes with a small grove and numerous idols of the Nagas. Prayers are also offered at the shrines of Shiva. In West Bengal and Orissa, Mansa, the queen of serpents, is worshipped on this day.
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