Naga Panchami

aarushik's picture

Many animals are revered and celebrated in India for their cultural and religious significance. We pay our respects to the cow for their key role in agriculture during Maattu Pongal, and commemorate the elephant for its divine presence during Hastimangala. Likewise, a special day this week will commemorate the Nagas, or serpents, on August 14: Naga Panchami. Celebrated in West Bengal, Maharashtra, and South India on the fifth day of the fortnight in the month of Shravan, Naga Panchami commends the serpent for controlling the rat population in fields, and for playing a role in several divine tales from the scriptures. Since the festival falls in Shravan, people customarily don’t plough or sow the earth, for it is considered inauspicious and harmful to the snakes in the earth.

Worship of the nagas traces its roots back to the Indus Valley civilization in 3000 B.C. The Indo-Aryans were said to embrace the serpent into their culture, not to mention that the serpent also found a place in Hinduism from then onwards. Moreover, there are several representations of the snake in the Puranas and other religious tales. For example, the asuras and devas used Adisesha, the lord of the snakes, as a rope to tie around the Mandara Hill. Lord Shiva drapes the snake around his neck, Lord Vishnu is represented as sleeping on Adisesha, and it is said that Adisesha protected baby Krishna with his hood when Vasudeva took the baby to Brindavana. Indeed, given the active role it has played for eons, it is no surprise that people all over pay their obeisance to the serpent. Nagapattinam in southern India is named after the serpent god, while the Ajanta caves have several representations of the snake in carvings and sculptures.

In India, people who observe Naga Panchami, perform a pooja either to a snake pit, anthill, snake sculpture, or to snake molded out of mud. People also draw Nagabandha rangolis or rangolis of the five-headed Nagadevata, the lord of the serpents.

There are many Nagabandha rangoli patterns available in the ikolam website.

Here is a recent snake rangoli, drawn by Mrs.Rajam: http://www.ikolam.com/node/14331
The basic dot grid could be found at: http://www.ikolam.com/node/14381

Sandalwood and white lotuses are also commonly used to satisfy Nagadevata. As a form of prasadam, it is common for people to prepare kheer and black sesame ladoos. It should be noted that salty and fried items are strictly prohibited on this day. Moreover, in order to protect themselves from snake-bites and other evils, people also offer silver jewelry and milk to serpents. Although the serpent has been stereotyped as an intimidating creature with supernatural powers, this mood isn’t typically brought out on Naga Panchami. Rather, people enjoy themselves on swings outdoors and sing in praise of Nagadevata. Let us also revel in our worship of the mighty serpent on this day!

Comments

rajesh15's picture

Thanks Aarushi for this

Thanks Aarushi for this information. Its good to know the indepth information about the festival we celebrate.

jkmrao's picture

Good writeup. Keep it up!

Good writeup. Keep it up!

1. One more reason serpents have a prime place in the Hinduism is, it goes will with the philosophy. Just as the snake sheds skin, we too shed our mortal coils and take another birth. However, snakes do not drink milk.

2. Snakes in all cultures stand for fertility. That is why many childless women worship snakes and also erect stone snakes. At one time, dhanushkOTi was quite famous for this.

3. There are five famous nAgAs, anaMta, vAsuki, takshaka, karkOTaka and piMgaLa. For me, piMgaLanAga is like a God (find out why). More about piMgaLa at a later time.

4. We used to do nAgachaviti in SrAvaNa and also after dIpAvaLi.

5. During my childhood days, we used to read story books of princes and princesses where in nAgakanyA used to be present. Do children read such books any longer?

Regards! - mOhana

anirudh's picture

sure Sudha, will email you

sure Sudha, will email you in the evening.

sudhabalakrishnan's picture

ANIRUDH, If time permits can

ANIRUDH, If time permits can you upload this song or send it to my email id.

sudhabalakrishnan's picture

Heyyyy anirudh i can also

Heyyyy anirudh i can also remember the old folk song in kannada " Panchami habba uldava dhina nalka anna barallilla yako karyaka, .............."

sudhabalakrishnan's picture

AArushi, very nice write up

AArushi, very nice write up on this day we do abhishekam with milk and water and write nagabandhana on the sides of the maindoor of the house with turmeric or the snake pit's mud, and decorate with gejjevastra dipped in turmeric. On this day the mom's are allowed to consume only riceflakes(avalakki) made in ddifferent varietis and the next day the childrens will perform the pooja.

aarushik's picture

Thanks for all your

Thanks for all your comments! It's interesting to hear that the festival is also observed by brothers and sisters. The connection between Naga Panchami and Garuda Panchami is intriguing given the religious significance of Garuda and the serpents. I'd definitely like to learn more about these two festivals, since they aren't celebrated commonly where I live. Smile

viji_j86's picture

Very nice write up. Thanks

Very nice write up.
Thanks for sharing.
Very pretty kolam above.At jaya mams house at Chennai, at the entrance nagabandhan kolam is painted.
viji

Rajusree's picture

Very good writeup Aarushi.

Very good writeup Aarushi. Normally the poeple who had moved from Andhra n Karnataka(moved like 600 or 700 years ago like Saint Tyagaraja) n settled in Tamil nadu celebrate this as Naga chaturthi (fourthday) and Garuda panchami the following day. On Garuda panchami they pray for well being of their brothers and have thoram (yellow thread with 5 knots) in their hand. They make poorna Kozhukattai as naivedyam.

jayamohan's picture

While going around temples I

While going around temples I never miss to go near the naga sculptures and admire their beauty! It has a special place in kolams like lotus and conch.

lakshmiraghu's picture

very nice writeup Aaru..yes

very nice writeup Aaru..yes we also follow what Anirudh said..thanks for sharing with us.

anirudh's picture

pretty good writeup Aarushi.

pretty good writeup Aarushi. In Karnataka its also festival for brothers & sisters, where sisters pray for well being of their brothers.