Naga Panchami, or the festival of snakes, is celebrated on the fifth day of the Shravan month, in the bright fortnight of the month.
There are a lot of stories and legends that are cited as the reason behind the celebration of the Naga Panchami festival. Let us look at some of the interesting legends of Naga Panchami.
Farmer And The Snakes
Once upon a time, there lived a farmer with his wife, two sons and a daughter. One day, the farmer was ploughing his farm and he accidentally ran over and killed three baby snakes of a Naagin (a female snake of immense power). The Nagin was overcome with anger and sadness and vowed to make the farmer suffer in the same way.
In the night, the Naagin went stealthily and bit the farmer's wife and his two sons. But the sun rose before she could kill the daughter.
The next night, the Naagin came again to finish the daughter off. But the daughter was already expecting her. She placed a bowl of milk before the Naagin and worshipped her. It was coincidently the day of Naga Panchami.
The girl's gesture pleased the Naagin and returned the girl's mother and brother's lives.
Since that day, Naga Panchami is celebrated by men to escape the wrath of snakes.
The Youngest Prince, His Wife And The Nagas
Once upon a time, there lived a King with his Queen and their six sons. All the six sons were married. They all had children too, except for the youngest son. The wife of the youngest son was made fun of and was called barren and other names due to her misfortune.
This hurt the youngest son's bride very much. She wept and told her husband about all her woes. He consoled her and said "having children is a matter of fate. Let the people talk like they wish but I don't think the same way about you. Be happy instead of worrying about what others say."
Time passed and the fourth day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Shravana arrived. That night as the bride of the youngest son slept, five Nagas appeared to her in her dream. They told her that the next day was Naga Panchami. If she worships the Nagas on that day, she will be blessed with a precious little boy. She woke up immediately and narrated her dream to her husband.
The young prince told her to make five images of the snakes that she saw in her dream. It is said that the snakes dislike warm food. So, raw milk should be offered to them in worship.
The bride of the sixth son did accordingly and was rewarded with a lovely son.
The Brahmin And Naga Panchami
Once in a city known as Manikapura, there lived a Gavada Brahmin. Though he was a Brahmin, he did not know anything about Naga Panchami. He was ignorant of the fact that digging, ploughing, burning, picking and roasting are deeds that are not to be done on the Naga Panchami day.
He went to his fields on the Naga Panchami day and started ploughing the fields. He accidentally ran over a family of snakes. All the young snakes were killed but the mother snake escaped.
As revenge, she bit all the members of the Brahmin's family and they all died, except for a daughter who was a great devotee of the Snake Goddess. She had celebrated the festival of Naga Panchami every year religiously. Because of this, the mother snake had let her escape her wrath.
But the Brahmin's daughter prayed to the mother snake to help her. The mother Snake then gave her magical nectar that the girl sprinkled on the corpses of her family. With this, all of the family woke up from death as if they had been in a deep sleep.
The daughter then advised the family to worship the snake Gods on Naga Panchami. The Brahmin also promised to keep away from all the burning, digging and ploughing on that day.
Naga Panchami And The Bond Of Brothers And Sisters
Once upon a time, there lived an elder brother with his little sister. The sister was a great devotee of the Snake Gods. On Naga Panchami, she asked her elder brother to bring her the flowers of Ketaki. The ketaki flower is considered to be the favourite of the snakes.
The brother went deep into the jungle to bring the ketaki flower but a snake bite him and he passed away.
The little sister was stricken with grief. She prayed to the snake Gods and asked them to bring her brother back. The Snake Gods appeared and give her an ointment to rub on the back of the dead brother. She did as per advised. On rubbing the ointment, the brother came back to life.
Since that day, Naga Panchami is also a day on which the bond of a brother and sister is celebrated.
In the South Indian states, the girls and married women rub a little ghee or raw milk on the backs, belly button and the spine of their brothers. This also depicts the bond of the womb they share. Doing this ritual is said to strengthen the bond between the brother and sister.