Nag Panchami is a Hindu festival observed throughout India, Nepal, and other Hindu resident countries. Nagapanchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the lunar month of Shravan (July/August) as per the Hindu Calendar. This festival is dedicated to the worship of serpents or snakes as supreme divine power and falls on the Shukla Paksha Panchami of Sravan Masa every year. This year Naga Panchami will be celebrated on 5th August 2019. Nag Panchami is also known as Bhratru Panchami, Bishari Puja, Naga Vardhini Panchami in some parts of India.
The festival starts with Naga Chaturthi followed by Nag Panchami and Nag Shashti. The women across India celebrate the day with regards to showering happiness in their children’s lives. It is believed that praying snake gods on this day provides protection to children.
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Importance of Nag Panchami
Snakes are highly auspicious creatures in India that are related to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. They are a holy seat to Lord Vishnu and gracefully twirls around the neck of Lord Shiva. Being the important aspects of the Hindu Gods, snakes have been worshipped for many decades. Offering them prayers along with fruits and milk blesses an individual with happiness and good luck.
It is believed that snakes are from Patal Loka (the seven layers of the universe located beneath the Earth) and the lowest of them is called Naga Loka. They are believed to be the part of the creative force and hence, their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. That is why on this auspicious day, plowing a field is strictly prohibited as it may harm these creatures in some way or the other.
Also, according to astrology, snakes influence our lives by giving us positivity. Sometimes, they may also inhibit one’s growth with “Kala Sarpa Dosha” which might occur because of the ill effects of killing a snake by us or our ancestors. So praying the snake gods on auspicious days relieve us from such doshas.
History of Nag Panchami
This festival has its roots in our ancient history that dates back to the time of Mahabharata. The folk tale associated with it is related to King Parikshit who was being bitten by the king of snakes “Takshak” which lead to his death. This event shocked the king’s son “Janamejaya” who organized a huge yaga out of rage to take his father’s death revenge. It was “Sarpa Satra Yagna” that forced all the snakes on the Earth to jump into that holy fire. Seeing this, King Takshak went to Lord Indra to seek his help but the immense power of the verses and mantras dragged both Lord Indra and Snake King towards the yagna. This course of event shook the entire universe since Lord Indra was the king of all devtas. This is when Lord Brahma took the help of Goddess Manasa Devi to control the situation.
Maa Manasa Devi sent her daughter “Astika” to Janamejaya to stop the yagna and that was the fifth day of Sravan masa. So from that day itself, this day is celebrated as Nag Panchami.
How it is celebrated across India?
People observe fast on this day and offer milk, rice pudding, and flowers to snakes in temples. In some parts of India, women offer prayers along with their brothers, with a belief to protect them against snake bites and other related things. In South India, people place a lotus flower in a silver plate on this day and apply sandalwood paste; kumkum followed by rangoli all around the plate and worship it. The festival is celebrated with different names in a different part of India like in Punjab; it is Guga Nauvmi, in western parts; it is Khetrapal and Manasa in eastern states of India.
All in all, Nag Panchami is a form of nature worship depicting the importance of the coexistence of animals and humans.