The Hindu mythology is marked by many aspects of worship dedicated to the sacred cow, garud and the snakes. Indian festivals are a glorious conglomeration or boutique of colour, sentiments and honest faith.
One such festival is the worship of the snakes on the fifth day of the moonlit fortnight of the Hindu month of shravan. This day is the Naga Panchami, and India sees a plethora of faith emerging in different forms of worship of the snake.
Many Hindu Gods are adorned with snakes. Lord Vishnu reclines on a bed of snake, while Lord Shiva adorns the snake around his neck. So comes the importance of the snakes in India.
In Maharashtra this festival is celebrated for fifteen days. In North Karnataka, this festival is associated with the jokali or swing.
The young girls gather together for an intimate exchange of fun and play. The newly married women return to their birth homes and prepare the sweet undi or laddu and bring the savories with them to their in-laws' place.
The Belief Of Celebrating Naga Panchami
The celebration of Naga Panchami is akin to Lord Krishna and the Kaliya Narthana. It is believed that while playing on the banks of the river Yamuna, Lord Krishna, still a child, playfully threw his ball into the river.
While retrieving the ball, he fell into the river and was attacked by the venom spitting king of the serpents Kaliya. The entire episode of the fight is an exciting picture painted by many spiritualists as the victory of the good over the evil.
The famous Kalinga Narthana by Krishna dancing over the innumerable heads of Kalinga is personification of life weaving through its many cycles of joy and sorrow. Kaliya finally accepts that Krishna is invincible and pleads for himself and his large entourage of wives to be pardoned.
Lord Krishna spares him by a promise that Kaliya will not poison the Yamuna. Naga Panchami is celebrated as the victory of Krishna over Kaliya, the most dangerous snake.
Traditional Way Of Celebrating Naga Panchami
Naga Panchami is celebrated by worshipping live snakes in most states of India. The snakes are offered rice and milk and it is believed that snakes on this day do no harm to anybody. Snake charmers carry the snakes to central parts of temples and women offer their worship in these temples.
Why Is Naga Panchami Celebrated
Young unmarried girls believe that praying to the king of snakes on this day will bring them blessings of the lord of snakes for a good life partner. Married women worship this day with the faith and belief that evil will be warded off and their families will live in prosperity and good health.
How Is Naga Panchami Celebrated?
The houses are painted anew and the threshold is smeared with turmeric and vermilion to welcome snakes. The gaiety is instantaneous as many families get together to celebrate and worship the snakes in the compound of their homes. Many houses in rural areas make snake images from dough and offer flowers and milk to this image. The image is then drowned in water by the end of the day.
Naga Panchami Celebrated In Cities
Urbanites and city dwellers too are not very far off in their fervor of celebrating this sacred festival. Women and children wake up early in the morning and offer worship to the images of snakes, and their brothers visit the homes to exchange good wishes and blessings.
It is marked as a day of bonding between brothers and sisters. The day witnesses a spread of delectable delicacies. On this festive and sacred day city dwellers visit temples dedicated to Lord Nagaraj.
Famous Temples Dedicated To Lord Nagaraj
- India is famous for its temples and famous amongst them dedicated to Lord Nagaraj are:
- Mannarashala Temple in Kerala
- Kukke Subramanya in Karnataka
- Bhujang Naga Temple in Gujurat
- Tirunageswaram Temple in Tirunageaswaram
- Nagaraja Temple in Nagarcoil, Tamil Nadu
- Ghatti Subramanya Temple in Karnataka
- Agasanahalli Nagappa near Davangere in Karnataka
- Seshnag Lake in Kashmir Valley