Nag Panchami is a sacred festival of the Hindu religion. The festival marks the significance of the Snake-God. On this day devotees worship snakes or serpents. This day is celebrated on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Shravan/Savan (according to Hindu calendar). It is said to take place in the month of July/August. This year, the festival will be celebrated on the 1st of August.
Nag Panchami History
The history of this festival is associated with various interesting stories. The worshipping of the snakes is known to be in practice from the Naga clan. The Naga clan is observed to be in existence since the ancient times, and was known to be a highly developed clan. Evidence of worship of snakes has been found in that period of time as well. Traces of worshipping snakes can also be seen in the times of Mahabharata. Shesh Nag, Lord Vishnu's resting couch is also associated with the festival of Nag Panchami. Lord Shiva keeps a snake around his neck; another association of god with snakes. The Indian culture has uncountable numbers of mythological stories attached to the history of celebrating Nag Panchami.
Celebration of Nag Panchami
Nag Panchami holds a very important place in the hearts of devotees. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm all across the country and in Nepal. There are various temples where Nag Panchami is celebrated with devotion. People are seen offering (Bhog) food and milk to pictures or idols of snakes. Many people also offer milk directly to snakes in order to make them happy and receive their blessings. People are witnessed dancing and carrying snakes, kept in pots, on their heads. A strong belief is that by keeping the Snake God happy one can seek his blessing and stay safe from his demonic anger.
Nag Pachami Pujan
The Nag Panchami pooja is performed with great devotion throughout the country with certain regional variations. South India is seen to organize a grand celebration on this day. On Nag Panchami, people refrain from digging their fields. It is believed that by doing so, they disturb and can even hurt the snakes living under the ground. Devotees, on this day, fast till evening. The fast prohibits intake of salt and any fried eatable. Various eatables such as kheer are made to serve as offering to the Snake God. In certain places the rituals include making a rangoli of a snake with five heads. A bowl of water with a lotus in it is then kept in front of the rangoli. Later, the devotees offer their prayers to God and wish to get his blessings. On this day, the Shivling and pictures/idols of snakes are given a bath with milk and water after which bhajans and mantras are recited and food is offered as Bhog. People, especially farmers, also worship their agricultural tools to seek blessings on their medium of livelihood.