Nag-Panchami is a very important Hindu festival, which is celebrated on the fifth day (Panchami) of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of "Shravan"(July /August).
It is believed that this day provides special pleasure to divine snakes and this is the reason Naga Panchami is still widely celebrated all across the India. This festival offers respect to snakes.
'Nagas', a clan with highly developed culture existed in ancient India. As per the proofs of the Indus Valley civilisation of 3000 B.C. the Nagas worshipped the snakes.
It must be noted that only a specific category of serpents called 'Naga' is worshiped and not all the snakes. The Naga culture got incorporated into Hinduism.
Later, the Indo-Aryans themselves accepted many of the snake deities of the Nagas in their pantheon. The prominent Cobra snakes mentioned in the Puranas are various.
They are - Anant, Vasuki, Shesh, Padma, Kanwal, Karkotak, Kalia, Aswatar, Takshak, Sankhpal, Dhritarashtra and Pingal. As per the historians, these were not the snakes but the powerful Naga Kings.
The five types of snakes worshipped on this day are - Anant, Vasuki, Takshak, Karkotan and Pingal. People observe fast and offer milk and silver jewelry to the Cobras to protect them from all evils.
This festival is to celebrate the day of lord Krishna's victory over the snake Kalia. In this period the snake holes fill up with rain water.
Hence the serpents come out of it and take a shelter in shrubs, gardens and in the nearby houses. Some of them are caught trickyly by the snake charmers, who then remove their poisonous bags.
Such harmless snakes are brought in the residential areas where people can worship them. Also clay images and printouts of snakes are sold in the market on the day of Nagpanchami.
In support of this belief, it is seen a huge serpent carved above the head of the statue of Muni Parshwanath. In medieval India figures of snakes were carved or painted on the walls of many Hindu temples.
Later on, the Naga culture got incorporated into Hinduism and the Indo-Aryans adopted many of the snake deities of the Nagas. The thousand-headed Shesh Nag, the couch of Lord Vishnu, symbolises eternity.
Hindus believe in the immortality of the snake because of its habit of sloughing its skin. As such eternity in Hinduism is often represented by a serpent eating its own tail.
Lord Shiva, who loved and blessed the snakes, always wears them as ornamentation around his neck. Most of the festivals that fall in the month of Shravan are celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva.
Shiva's blessings are sought by devotees and along with the Lord, snakes are also worshiped. Particularly on the Nag-Panchami day live cobras or their pictures are revered and religious rights are performed to seek their good will.
To seek immunity from snake bites, they are given a bath with milk, haldi-kumkum is applied on the heads and milk and rice are offered as 'Naivedya'.
The Brahmin who is called to do the religious ritual is given 'Dakshina', like silver or gold coins, a cow and nowdays also money in cash.
In ancient India, there lived a community called "Nagas" with highly developed culture. Nagas were the worshippers of snakes and the Indus Valley civilisation of 3000 B.C. provides ample proof.
There culture was wide-spread in India even before the arrival of Aryans. Kashyap, the son of Lord Brahma had four wives and the third wife, called, Kadroo, gave birth to Nagas. Hence the snake is also called as 'Kadrooja'.
In Jainism and Buddhism snake is regarded as sacred with divine qualities. It is believed that a Cobra snake saved the life of Buddha and another protected the Jain Muni Parshwanath.
Once the Naga Loka got blazed due to the maternal curse and this immense pain of Nagas subsided on the day of Naga Panchami.
As per Bhagvata, when the king Janmejaya started performing Naga Yajna to destroy all the snakes, on the day of Naga Panchami, the son of recluse Jaratkaru, Aastik, rescued and saved them.
This is one of the reasons of celebrating Naga Panchami.
Snakes are an integral part of our Hindu culture. As per the texts, the original place of snakes is Patal Lok and as per the Sanskrit literature, the capital of Naga Lok is Bhogavatipur.
Hindu texts - Garud Purana, Charak Samhita, Bhavishya Purana and Bhavprakash etc. mention various things related to Nagas. The famous Indian state Kashmir has relationship with these divine snakes.
One of the well known towns of Kashmir is called Anantnaga and it shows the historical evidence of this long relationship. Still the worship of divine serpents is quite prevalent in the hilly area of India.
In every part of India, the worship of divine snakes is done in some form or the other. In many of the places, snakes are believed to be there ruling deity of that village.
Lord Vishnu rests on the serpent in Ksheer Sagar. Shesha Naga keeps serving Lord Vishnu all the time. It is believed that whenever Lord Vishnu takes incarnation on earth, Shesha Naga accompanies him too.
Lord Shiva holds the snake around his neck, like an ornament and Shiva Linga, the formless symbol of cosmic power, is usually depicted with snakes.
The snake came as Laxman with incarnation of Lord Rama and as Baladev with the incarnation of Lord Krishna. Hindu scriptures say that, the snakes are the descendants of seer Kashyapa and his wife Kadru.
Lord Ganesha, possees snake in the form of sacred thread. As per the yoga theory, Kundalini is depicted as a snake situated at the root of the spinal cord and it is said that Kundalini energy exists there.
If one succeeds in awakening this divine snake energy, one becomes enlightened and gets many divine powers. The Naga Panchami festival inspires us to protect snakes.
Every animal and creature is important in preservation of environment and nature.
During this time, snakes often seek refuge in houses as their holes in the ground become flooded with rainwater. Due to the danger they pose to humans, snakes are worshiped during this period to protect villagers from harm.
People bring clay idol or images and worship at home. In various places in India, traditionally five idols of snakes are made, each with the five heads, using gold, silver or the wood pen.
The divine snake is placed in a sacred copper sauccer called 'Tamhan" and thin blades of grass called 'Durva' are placed around the idol.
A lamp is lit with thread dipped in ghee called 'waat'. Then the idol is worshiped with milk, Panchamrit (a sweet mixture of milk, curd, sugar, ghee & honey) and Kheer.
A sacred thread called "Janva" is worn around the snake idol and vermillion ie kumkum (made of turmeric and saffron powder) is applied on its head.
Then Nag Mantra is chanted followed by offering- "Prasad" of Lahya(corns) soaked in milk. The next day morning the idol is worshipped agin called 'Uttar Pooja' and the snake image is flown in a river, ocean, pond or kept in dense shrubs.
As per the tradition Nagpanchami pooja is performed by the people who worship Ganapati on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Important Aspects of Nag Panchami
1- Women take early bath and wear colourful saris.
2- Cobras are given a milky bath and offered rice.
3- Milk and flowers are kept near the snake-holes, as an offering of devotion. It is a sign of good fortune, if the snake drinks the milk.
4- In Bengal, the Queen of Snakes, Mansa, is worshiped.
5- Nag Panchami is called as "Guga-Navami" in Punjab. In Punjab, a large dough snake is made and then paraded through the village by playing the music and singing. At the end of the parade the snake is buried.
6- In Maharashtra the snake charmers sit along the roads and the women worship the snake by offering milk, flowers and haldi-kumkum (a powdered offering of tumeric and vermillion). Also the snakes idols made of clay are worshipped at home and burried in the evening.
7- In many villages, snake charmers carry pots containing cobras to a common temple where they are released and then women worship with offerings of milk and rice.
8- In the south of India, people worship idols of snakes made of clay or sandalwood.
9- Hindus do not fry anything on the day of Nag Panchami.
Nag Panchami is celebrated throughout India, however, more festivities are seen in the south than in the north. On this auspiceous day the villagers put up swings and enjoy themselves.
The brides visit their parents on this occasion. The village of Baltis Shirale, which is situated approximately 400 kilometers (approximately 250 miles) from Mumbai, conducts the most outstanding of all the celebrations.
Reportedly, the largest collection of snakes in the world can be found in Baltis Shirale. Visitors from all over the world gather in the village to worship live snakes.
Interestingly, despite no venom being removed from the snakes, no one has ever been bitten. Naag Panchami is celebrated in Adiesha Temple - Andhra Pradesh, Nagaraja Temple - Kerala, Nagathamman Temple - Chennai, Hardevja Temple - Jaipur.
Naag Panchami is also celebrated in Nepal since many years. It is different than India and called as 'Festival Of Snakes'.
It is celebrated since thousand years as per the rich Nepali culture and rituals, which has played a significant role in the lives of the ancient people of Nepal.
The Nepali people beleived that the snake kings had relation with the almighty God and would take care of them. The festival is celebrated in the month of August.
The residents hoist pictures of snakes on the entrance of their houses to prevent from the evil forces.
The participants wear demon masks and perfrom dance in the streets while chanting the rayers. As per the belief, the Snake Kings are offered food items such as milk and honey by placing them in gardens.
It is beleived that these offerings are honoured by the snake kings by giving good rains and crops, thus the prosperity.
1- The Snake and the Farmer
Once a farmer was ploughing his field, when accidently an anthill got destroyed with the plough, killing the young snakes which were hiding in it.
When the mother snake returned, she found the young ones cut into pieces. She became irate and understood that the farmer had killed them. She decided to take the revenge.
At night when the farmer was sleeping with his family, the angry snake rushed in and began to bite all of them. Later,the snake decided to bite the farmer's daughter who had gone out.
Soon the snake found and recognized her as the farmer's eldest daughter. The snake rushed to bite her, but then saw the young girl worshipping the snake.
She had offered them food and grass blades (durva) and was praying with great devotion. She prayed - 'Oh snake god,accept my worship. Look after my people at home and in my father-in-law's house.
Do not bite anyone. Forgive any fault we may have committed unknowingly'. With this the snake was pleased and came before the girl. She opened her eyes and got frightened at the sight of the snake.
But the snake said, "Don't be afraid. I shall not bite you. Tell me who you are and where your house is. "Then the snake knew well that the girl was the farmer's daughter and felt very sorry for having killed all her people.
The snake told the girl about the incident, but told her not to cry. The snake gave her some nectar and told her to sprinkle it on her dead people and with this they all come back to life.
On doing so her family members came back to life. Later, they regularly worshipped the snake god on Nag Panchami.
Once Guru Gorakhnath while passing through his village saw a woman praying before a cobra idol made up of clay. He transformed it into a living snake and told her not to be afraid of snakes.
Since then the villagers of Baltis Shirale and its neighbouring areas worship the snakes. Guru Gorakhnath's temple is on a nearby hillock.
ANANTAM VASUKIM SHESHAM PADMANABHAM CHA KAMBALAM ❘
SHANKHPAL DHRUTRASTRAM CHA TAKSHAKAM KALIAM TATHA ❘ ❘
ETANI NAVA NAMANI NAGANAM CHA MAHATMANAM ❘
SAMAYKALE PATHENITYAM PRATAHKAALE VISHESHATAH ❘
TASYA VHISHABHAYAM NASTI SARVATRA VIJAYI BHAVET ❘ ❘
The Names of nine Nag Devtas - Anant, Vasuki, Shesh, Padmanabh, Kambal, Shankhapal, Dhrutrashtra, Takshak and Kalia
if chanted regularly every day in the morning, will keep you protected from all evils and make you victorious in life.
Food on Nag Panchami
Black Sesame Laddu (Karnataka Style)
1) Black clean Sesame seeds - 1 cup
2) Grated Jaggery - 1/2 cup Instructions:
1) Take black seasame seeds in a pan and sprinkle little water over the seeds and roast them.
2) Mix the rest of the sesame seeds with jaggery. Pulse the mixture in a blender till sesame seeds are powdered and gets blended with jaggery.
3) Take out the mixture from blender and mould them into small laddu balls. No ghee or oil is needed to prepare this laddos,so this is absolutely healthy to eat.
1) Raw Rice - 2 Cups.
2) Grated Coconut - 1,
3) Jaggery - 1/2 Cup.
4) Ghee - 2 tsps.
5) Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp.
6) Greased plate/Banana leaf piece Instructions:
1) Soak rice in a bowl for half an hour. Grind it with coconut and jaggery and get a thin batter.
2) Pour the batter in a thick bottomed pan and stir continuously. Pour little ghee and re-stir it.
3) When the batter leaves the sides of the pan, transfer it into the greased plate or banana leaf. Spread the batter evenly with a flat bottomed steel cup. Apply some ghee on the top.
4) Cool down the batter and then cut it into sdifferent shapes and spread dry fruit pieces on the top.
For the rice paste:
Raw rice - 1 cup.
Poha - 1 cup.
Grated Coconut - 2-3 tbsps,
Grated Jaggery - 1/2 tsp,
Salt - A little
For the stuffing:
Fresh coconut gratings - 1 cup.
Jaggery gratings - 3/4 cup.
Powdered Cardamom Pods - 2-3,
1) Soak the raw rice for 1-2 hours. Grind the rice with poha, grated fresh coconut, grated jaggery and salt. Pour as little water as possible, and stir till you get a smooth paste. Keep aside.
2) Blend the coconut gratings, jaggery gratings and crushed cardamom pods. While blending, slightly crush the ingredients to release the coconut and jaggery juices.
3) Line up the leaves over a clean flat surface. Hold the tip of each leaf with your left hand, and apply some of the rice paste on the mid-vein of the leaf as a thin layer without the green of the leaf coming through. Do the same for all leaves. This is to ensure that when the leaf is folded over, the stuffing is exactly in the middle and the thin line makes sure that the stuffing does not overflow.
4) Wash hands. Have the steamer ready with the water boiling. Next, fold one side of the leaves over the other length-wise. Press the leaf edges lightly, so that the paste sticks together and the jaggery does not overflow while melting. Steam all the leaves filled with rice-stuffing one by one for 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy all the dishes and also offer them to your guests.