Naga Panchami Festival in August 2012- fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar day in the month of Sravana during the monsoon season. Nag Panchami is on the 23rd July 2012
This year Naga Panchami falls on August 4. Interestingly it is also termed as Garuda Panchami- as Garuda or the royal eagle is the natural enemy of the Snakes and serpents, worshiping Garuda on this day also grants a protective shield against all snake related malefic conditions in ones natal chart.
Basically the celebration of Naga Panchami is the victory of Lord Krishna over the mythical Kaliya, a monstrous black serpent that was killed by Krishna in the Yamuna river. Kalia had terrorized the villagers and Krishna was assigned to tame him. It is believed that the tussle that happened between Krishna and Kalia- the serpent is so famous that when Krishna emerged winner, he stood on the hood of the snake and the Snake acquired the feet impressions of the Lord as a mark of servility. The story is called as the “Kaliya Mardan” It is also believed that seeing the footprints of Lord Krishna- the Avataar of Lord Vishnu, Garuda(the eagle) who is the natural enemy of the serpent, does not harm it. There is an interesting story of why the Eagle and the Snakes are mortal natural enemies. Read here
Snakes and serpents have great place and position in our ancient Hindu mythology. Basically during this time, when it rains and all the pits and holes are filled with water, snakes and other rodents come out of their hiding. There are hundreds of cases of snake bites and people and farmers especially and all those living near fields and grounds of dying of snake bite. Hence our ancients developed this ritual of worshiping the snakes that are most seen roaming out of their homes during this time, to appease them and request them not to bite people.
The following Sanskrit names of Eight Great Nāgas, namely,
अनन्तं वासुकिं शेषं पद्मनाभं च कम्बलम् |
शंखपालं धार्तराष्ट्रं तक्षकं कालियं तथा ||
Naga Panchami in South India-Kerala
Naga Panchami is a huge festival in the state of Kerala, as the state houses the Ananta Padmanabha temple, where Lord Vishnu has tamed Sheshnaag- the King of the serpents and is in sleeping position on the body of Sheshanaag.
Manasa Puja, Worship of the Serpent Goddess, sister of Vasuki- the snake that was used to bind the mountain during the Samudra Manthan.
During the monsoon season, Goddess Manasa is worshiped, mainly in the eastern Indian states of Bengal, Assam, Jharkand, and Orissa, throughout the months of June, July and August (Ashad- Shravan), a time when the snakes leave their nesting ground and come out into the open and become active. Devotees pay obeisance to goddess Manasa and perform various ‘pujas’ or rituals to appease her.
Rituals observed this day:
- People go to temples and snake pits in temples to worship the Nagas.
- People fast on the Panchami day and take food only in the evening.
- By praying the Naga Devatas one is freed from the fear of snakes and serpents and it is also believed to protect us from all evils.
- The person who performs worship of the serpents on Naga Panchami day should not dig the ground for farming or for any other reason.
- It definitely rains on this day as it is believed that the gods shower their blessings in the form of rain on the hood of the snake.
- Ant hills and snake pits are worshipped by offering milk, a pinch of turmeric and kumkum.
- Do not harm any rodents or snakes and the like as they are visible to us during this time as their homes are flooded with water.
- Perform the Naga archana or Puja in your local temples to get relief from Naga Dosha.
- No Hindu home may fry anything on the day of Nag Panchami. Only boiled and steamed food is preferred to be eaten.
Now an important Note:
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)have appealed to all to report if they see snakes being caught and used for display and earn money by the snake charmers. It is because the captured snakes are often kept in suffocating bags or tiny boxes, starved and and their fangs violently yanked out, or their mouths painfully sewn shut. The snake’s venom duct is often pierced with a hot needle, causing the animal’s glands to burst.
Some snakes have their eyes damaged when ‘tikka’ (vermilion) applied to their hoods during puja trickles into them.
The organization said many think snakes consume the milk offered to them. Milk is not part of their natural diet, and it causes them to become severely dehydrated, have allergic reactions and dysentery. Most die as a result.
The snake charmers bring these snakes near temples and try to exhibit or sell them – both of which are illegal according to the Wildlife Protection Act.
Citizens can report snake charmers at 9810054077, a PETA number, as well as to the local police. They can also file a complaint under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as well as the 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.