Naag Panchami – 25 July 2020

Setup done for Worshipping the Snakes on Naag Panchmi

Naag Panchami is an age-old traditional festival in Hindu religion, celebrated all over India & other countries like Nepal where Hindus reside. This encapsulates worshiping of serpents (live or idol) by offering milk and prayers. Naga refers to the group of serpent deities mainly King Cobra and Panchami means “fifth” day on which the festival is celebrated (fifth day after Amavasya, new moon) in the month of Shravana (July / August). Its based on Hindu calendar (a lunisolar calendar) mostly referred for their festival or mohurats. The pooja (prayers) are held as per mohurat (an auspicious time for ceremony).

History & Belief

There are several tales associated with this festival. It is said lord Krishna had blessed the deadly poisonous snake Naag Kalia (with 7 heads) residing in river Yamuna at Vrindavan and was poisoning the water & marine life. After which he said that people who offer milk & prayers to the snakes on that very auspicious occasion, will be relieved from their sins.

 

The cobra is considered sacred in Hinduism, and no harm is caused to it, the King Cobra is considered more sacred, as it bears OM symbol on its back.

Ceremony

Every celebration in Hinduism begins with a bath in the morning. Menstruating ladies are now allowed to participate in any ritual nor in any kitchen activity. The women dress in their traditional attire and offer their offerings to the Snake God.

Snake Idol being worshiped in forest after rituals at home

This festival is celebrated in 3 ways:

 

1. The milk is offered to a live snake by going near the anthills or where there is possibility of sighting the snake (mostly in villages), even though its a superstition as snakes don’t really drink milk. This is mostly done by Brahmins, the priests (bhatt) families do the prayers (puja) ceremony.

 

2. An idol of clay is bought from market and kept in a special decorated place (mandap) in the house which next day morning is bathed with milk; aarti is said and flowers & sweets are offered. In the evening it is taken to an anthill where the snake may be residing and left there with great respect.

 

3. An idol of stone from temple is worshiped. Here prayers are said by priests and people bring their offerings in a plate (puja thali with agarbatti i.e. incense stick, flowers, milk, red colour kumkum). People are not supposed to touch the idol here.

 

This puja should be done before lunch. Pure veg meal is cooked on this occasion and sweets like Patolli and other delicacies are made. No eating non veg for full day.

Vegetarian Meal

Special Day Meal

On this festive occasion, special meals are prepared and fresh food is cooked (no previous day’s leftover is kept in kitchen). All utensils are washed previous day and kept ready.

 

No fried or salty food is prepared on this auspicious day. The dishes prepared vary from region to region.

 

The dishes are rice, daal and various kinds of vegetables (seasonal & gram / beans), etc. Among sweet dishes, coconut, jaggery are main ingredients like Til Ke Laddoo made out of sesame seeds, jaggery & coconut. Patolli (using turmeric leaves) is made of rice batter, coconut, jaggery & some other varieties of ladoos.

 

Every festival in India is celebrated with family gathering together. The members who work / stay away from home, try to return to their native places and celebrate the festivity.

 

Lately the festivals are not being practiced in a grand manner, as our grandparents did. The simple celebration is done with variety of food delicacies.

 

Our ancestors always believed in respecting nature and lived in harmony with it and this festival is no different. Worshiping the cobra (which is venomous) or other snakes, is done in order to ward off the poisonous snakes. It is also said that, the blessing from snake brings good fortune.

Festival & COVID-19

Due to Corona pandemic, new rules are set for everything, accordingly it has changed the pattern of celebration too, now a low key affair. People are unable to visit their native places nor the temples.

 

The ceremony has been conducted with a simple celebration, mainly in villages. In India, its also a law that no snake can be killed nor anyone is supposed to catch a snake to keep as a pet or bring it live for worship!

 

So all in all, most of Indian festivals are centered around preserving environment and living in harmony with nature! 

For more information & photos, please check-out the link on Goan Festivals. See below the photos of Patollio being cooked.

An Ant Hill in the Forest, near Which People leave Mud idol of Snake

Anthill sometimes used by snakes

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