Nagara Panchami 2017
The Hindu festival of Nag Panchami which worships snakes is celebrated in several parts of India. This year, Nag Panchami will be celebrated in most states on July 27. The auspicious day falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar day in the month of Shravan according to the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated by worshipping snakes by offering milk in return of blessings.
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; 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, ruler 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.
In India, snakes are so valued that temples have also been built in their honor. On Nag Panchami day, snakes or their pictures are honored and religious rituals are performed to seek the good will of snakes. Villagers dance to music and carry snakes in pots over their heads to the temple. After rituals, the temple priest sprinkles haldi-kumkum i.e. turmeric and red powder and flowers on their heads. Plenty of milk and honey in return to seek immunity from snake bites. A priest is called to carry out the rituals and dakshina” is given in gold or silver or other forms.
In South India, Nag Panchami is a festival that brings siblings together to celebrate their family’s well-being. On this day, married women and girls wake up early in the morning. They take bath, arrange for puja, and go to the nearest ant hill (snake’s home) to perform puja. Traditionally, married young women visit their premarital house to celebrate this festival. Celebration of Nag Panchami involves women swinging on swings hung on tree branches.
The Nagarapanchami has a special importance in Dakshina Kannada. Naga worship in the form of “Naga mandala,” a folk ritual of the district, will now begin in various temples. People get together to have a community Nagapanchami, making offerings to the naga god. “Naga Tambila,” a special puja, will be organised. The community maintains a log book of those who offer puja every year, and, according to a belief, the number of those offering puja at that particular Naga Bana should go up every year at least by one.
May all Nagas, whether on Earth, Sky, Swarga, in the Sun rays, Sarovaras or Lakes, wells or other bodies, be appeased as we greet these deities again and again…
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