Saturday, 16 April 2016

N for Nag Panchmi

Nag Panchami is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India and in Nepal. It is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravan (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar.

The abode of snakes is believed to be patal lok, (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth) and lowest of them is also called Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas, as part of the creation force and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Serpent deity made of silver, stone or wood or the painting of snakes on the wall are given a bath with milk and then revered.

Nag Panchmi Worship

Mythology :

According to Hindu puranic literature, Kashyapa, son of Lord Brahma, the creator had four consorts and the third wife was Kadroo who belonged to the Naga race of the Pitru Loka and she gave birth to the Nagas(Cobras); among the other three, the first wife gave birth to Devas, the second to Garuda and the fourth to Daityas.

In the Mahabharata epic story, Astika, the Brahmin son of Jaratkarus, who stopped the Sarpa Satra of Janamejaya, king of the Kuru empire which lasted for 12 years is well documented. This yagna was performed by Janamejaya to decimate the race of all snakes, to avenge for the death of his father Parikshit due to snake bite of Takshaka, the king of snakes. The day that the yagna (fire sacrifice) was stopped, due to the intervention of the Astika, was on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day in the month of Shravan when Takshaka, the king of snakes and his remaining race at that time were saved from decimation by the Sarpa Satra yagna. Since that day, the festival is observed as Nag Panchami.

Worship & Celebration:

On the Nag Panchami day Nag, cobras, and snakes are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps and even sacrifices. Images of Nag deities made of silver, stone, wood, or paintings on the wall are first bathed with water and milk and then worshipped with the reciting of the mantras.

Snake being given Milk Bath

Fast is observed on this day and Brahmins are fed. The piety observed on this day is considered a sure protection against the fear of snake bite. At many places, real snakes are worshipped, milk is offered and fairs held. On this day digging the earth is taboo as it could kill or harm snakes which reside in the earth.

Aditya Sinha

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