Naga Panchami In English 2022
Shukla Paksha Panchami during Sawan month is observed as Nag Panchami. Usually Nag Panchami day falls two days after Hariyali Teej. Currently Nag Panchami falls in month of July and August in English calendar. Women worship Nag Devta and offer milk to snakes on this day. Women also pray for the wellness of their brothers and family.
Snakes or Nagas have always occupied a significant position in Hindu mythology and religious rites. The cobra is taken to be the symbol of the Nagas. Nag Panchami (Hindi: नाग पंचमी) is the Hindu festival celebrated in India to worship the snakes. It is celebrated in Nepal and most parts of India, especially by married ladies. The village of Shirale in Maharashtra is famous for its unique traditions observed during the festival.
When is Naga Panchami celebrated?
Nag Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day (panchami) in shukla paksha (bright half, after the new moon) in the month of Shravan. This falls in July or August.
The legend about Naga Panchami:
The roots of the festival of Nag Panchami can be found in Hindu scriptures. The Nagas were born of the third wife of Kashyap who is the son of Brahma – the creator. So, the Nagas were stepbrothers to the gods or the Devatas. They ruled the underworld or the Patal loka. Eight major Nagas have been described in the scriptures. One of them was Kaliya who was evil. When Krishna – the incarnation of Lord Vishnu was only a boy, he defeated Kaliya and danced on his head, putting an end to his misdeeds. Nag Panchami marks the day on which Krishna defeated Kaliya.
Alternatively, it is thought that the Nagas were a tribe who lived during the Indus Valley civilization and worshipped snakes. When the Aryan civilization became well established in India, the Nagas were absorbed in the Aryan population and remnants of their rituals were adopted by the Aryans as Nag Panchami.Nag Panchami is also celebrated by the Hindus of Nepal. Here, the legend says that Kathmandu valley used to be a lake occupied by the snakes or the Nagas. When people tried to settle here, the Nagas became enraged. So, they were worshipped and given special places of ritualistic significance to live in.
Indian scriptures such as Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and the Mahabharata give details of history of snakes extolling worship of snakes.
In the Mahabharata epic, Janamejaya, the son of King Parikshita of the Kuru dynasty was performing a snake sacrifice known as Sarpa Satra, to avenge for the death of his father from a snake bite by the snake king called Takshaka.
A sacrificial fireplace had been specially erected and the fire sacrifice to kill all snakes in the world was started by a galaxy of learned Brahmin sages. The sacrifice performed in the presence of Janamejaya was so powerful that it was causing all snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit). When the priests found that only Takshaka who had bitten and killed Parisksihita had escaped to the nether world of Indra seeking his protection, the sages increased the tempo of reciting the mantras(spells) to drag Takshaka and also Indra to the sacrificial fire. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indra’s cot but the force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that even Indra along with Takshaka were dragged towards the fire.
This scared the gods who then appealed to Manasadevi to intervene and resolve the crisis. She then requested her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and appeal to Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna. Astika impressed Janamejaya with his knowledge of all the Sastras (scriptures) who granted him to seek a boon. It was then that Astika requested Janamejeya to stop the Sarpa Satra. Since the king was never known to refuse a boon given to a Brahmin, he relented, in spite of protects by the rishis performing the yagna. The yagna was then stopped and thus the life of Indra and Takshaka and his other serpent race were spared. This day, according to the Hindu Calendar, happened to be Nadivardhini Panchami (fifth day of bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravana during the monsoon season) and since then the day is a festival day of the Nagas as their life was spared on this day. Indra also went to Manasadevi and worshipped her.
According to the Garuda Purana, offering prayers to snake on this day is auspicious and will usher good tidings in one’s life. This is to be followed by feeding Brahmins.
Panchami is the fifth day among the fifteen days of the moon’s waxing and/or waning. This special day of the serpent worship always falls on the fifth day of the moon’s waning in the Lunar Hindu month of ShravanaJuly/August. Hence this is called Naga Panchami (Naga: cobra; or simply, serpent).
Apart from the scriptural mention about snakes and the festival, there are also many folktales. One such tale is of a farmer living in a village. He had two sons and one of whom killed three snakes during ploughingoperations. The mother of the snake took revenge on the same night by biting the farmer, his wife and two children and they all died. Nextday the farmer’s only surviving daughter, distraught and grieved by the death of her parents and brothers, pleaded before the mother snake with an offering of a bowl of milk and requested for forgiveness and to restore the life of her parents and brothers. Pleased with this offering the snake pardoned them and restored the farmer and his family to life.
In folklore, snakes also refer to the rainy season – the varsha ritu in Sanskrit. They are also depicted as deities of ponds and rivers and are said to be the embodiment of water as they spring out of their holes, like a spring of water.