Nag Panchami, Worshipping Snakes

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Nag Panchami Indian Culture

Nag Panchami celebrated by Hindus in India

Hinduism as a religion is many-sided yet bound by a common search for Truth and to Hindus it means a way of life and a fellowship of faiths. With the advent of the Aryans, it originated as a simple form of worship of the forces of Nature, drawing in its system action in social organisations, local cults, deities’ diverse beliefs and modes of worship.

Nag-Panchami is an important all-India festival and is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravan (July /August). This is the time when serpents invariably come out of their holes that get inundated with rain-water to seek shelter in gardens and many times in houses. As such they pose a great danger to man.
May be therefore, snakes are worshiped on this day. Right from the times when mankind started acquiring some sort of culture, Sun and Snake have been invoked with prayers and ritual worship in most of the countries. In India even before the Vedic times, the tradition of snake-worship was in vogue.

Important Aspects of Nag Panchami:
This so called "snake day" has several important components. In addition to offerings made to the snakes throughout the country during worship and celebration, men and women celebrate the day in these ways:

  • Cobras are bathed in milk and offered rice as this is thought to offer immunity from their bites.
  • Women often partake in early baths of milk and wear colourful saris.
  • Pots of milk and flowers are placed next to holes that are believed to contain snakes as an offering of devotion. If a snake actually drinks the milk it is thought to be the ultimate sign of good luck.
  • Mansa, the Queen of Snakes, is worshiped in most parts of Bengal during Nag Panchami.
  • In the Punjabi region, a large dough snake is created and then paraded around the village. The parade is colourful with plenty of singing and dancing; at the end of the parade the snake is buried. Nag Panchami is referred to as "Guga-Navami" in Punjab.
  • Snake charmers sit alongside the roads of Maharashtra and encourage women to offer milk, flowers and haldi-kumkum (a powdered offering of tumeric and vermillion) to the dangerous snakes the snake charmers carry.
  • In many villages, snake charmers carry pots containing cobras to a central temple where they are released and then worshiped with offerings of milk and rice.
  • Mainly in the south of India, people worship figures of snakes made of clay or sandalwood as alternatives to the real-life versions.
  • No Hindu home may fry anything on the day of Nag Panchami.
  • Girls who are hoping to marry believe that the cobra offers good luck in their quest for eternal happiness.
     
     
 
 
 
 


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