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Nag Panchami 2022: Why Do People Offer Milk To Snakes On This Day

Snakes, referred to as Naga in our ancient Hindu scriptures, are actually a semi-divine race that is portrayed negatively sometimes, for their demoniacal fierceness but overall respected as symbols of fertility, divine powers and strength. Primarily believed to be the residents of Naga Loka, or Realm of the Nagas, the snakes find a pride of place not only in the Hindu religious scriptures but are also considered as ornaments of Gods and Goddesses. Let us go through the entire article to understand all the facets of Nag Panchami.

Not may know that the three serpentine coils around Lord Shiva's neck represent past, present and future. And Lord Vishnu is seen reclining on the thousand hooded Shesh Nag, in his characteristic stance of Yog Nidra (the meditative sleep). This year, Nag Panchami will be celebrated on Tuesday, 02 August 2022.

Snakes are intricately embedded with the existence of Lord Shiva, and get worshipped along with him. Lord Shiva is immensely pleased when Rudrabhishek is performed on the day of Naga Panchami. Offering Milk to serpents on Nag Panchami is a traditional custom that has been handed down to us from generations, and it is being continued with equal gusto and faith even today.

Hindu scriptures have ascribed enormous spiritual significance to serpents. Some scientific minds question the very authenticity of this practice and opine that snake do not drink milk. But then, it is also found that when the snakes feel extremely thirsty, they tend to drink milk offered by devotees.

Nag Panchami 2022: Why Is Milk Offered?

Devotees offer milk, rice and flowers to snakes to seek their blessings. In ancient times, it was believed that, snakes possessed power of speech as well. Widely celebrated in all regions of India, especially in the Nagchandreshwar Mahadev temple in Mahakaleshwar, in Ujjain, the Shiva mandir opens its doors to all devotees early in the morning to let them offer the bhog and milk.

It is on this day, that Hindus offer milk to snakes with a belief that their Kaal sarpa dosha will be mitigated. Kaal sarpa dosh is an inimical astrological combination or yoga in the horoscope caused by the shadowy planets, Rahu and Ketu, and this yoga does not let the native enjoy the rewards of his hard work or let the native get the deserved results for his efforts.

Milk is also offered to the snake idols and Shivalinga also to relieve one of the catastrophes that may befall them. In some parts of India, young girls also offer milk and pray to Snake God, with an intention of getting a good and kind partner for themselves. There is also a prevalent belief that snakes have a photographic memory and can remember faces better than we do, and hence they are capable of causing immense harm, in case they are harmed before by a family member(s). So, women, pray to snakes on this day to keep their families out of harm's way. Also performing puja to serpent god on this day, will assure freedom from snake bites in the future.

By worshipping snakes, Lord Shiva is pleased with the worshipper. Rituals may be different in different regions, but the motive and devotion behind it remain the same with people of all regions. Mud and sand are used to make idols of snake and then milk is poured over the idols so that it pleases Him. Care is taken not to dig the earth on this day, be it for tilling or to pull out the leafy green vegetables for cooking.

Live snakes are also worshipped and milk offered to them in some places. In certain areas of Maharashtra, devotees visit houses with a dormant cobra on their platters, with in intention of collecting alms and clothing. Offering of milk to snakes is also believed to help protect one's family from all kinds of calamity. It is also a harbinger of great fortune and success in life. Worshipping with milk is known to ward off evils and enemies from your life. Snake worship with milk is said to free the devotees from evil energies.

Nag Panchami 2022: Legends

Mythological stories offer evidence to support the practice of feeding milk to snakes. Legend has it that during Lord Krishna's times, a demoniacal snake by the name Kalinga, had inhabited the river Yamuna, thus making it impossible for the residents of Braj (Uttar Pradesh) to consume the water. The river was poisoned and the water was contaminated. Therefore, Lord Krishna defeated Kalinga in a lethal encounter and forced Kalinga to withdraw the venom that he had disseminated, in the waters of Yamuna after which he blessed the Kalinga, for obeying his orders. He blessed that any devotee who offers milk and prayers to Snakes on the day of Naga Panchami would be freed of all sins and troubles.

Samundra Manthan is another famous episode that involved Devas and Asuras in a mighty oceanic churn with a goal to get the by-product of Nectar from the Milk Ocean wherein, for churning, the mighty serpent Vasuki was used. Firstly, certain venoms and herb types came out as a result of the churn, and secondly a deadly poison emerged out of the ocean, that was powerful enough to wipe out all traces of life. It was at this time, Lord Shiva drank the poison himself, but the venom stopped trickling down at his neck, thereby giving a blue tint to it. A few drops of venom were consumed by the snakes on Shiva's body, as well. In order to remove the impact, devatas performed abhishek of Ganga Jal on Lord Shiva and the snakes. This process is being symbolically repeated even today in order to remind us of the significance of puranic episode.

On the other hand, snakes help farmers to protect the crops from being infested by the insects and rodents. Nag Panchami is also considered the day to recognize and venerate the benevolent effect of serpents on human life.

Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky does not confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons

Story first published: Friday, July 29, 2022, 10:00 [IST]
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