Nag Panchami is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India and also in Nepal. The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravan (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar. The abode of snakes is believed to be patal lok, (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth) and lowest of them is also called Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas, as part of the creation force and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family.Serpent deity made of silver, stone or wood or the painting of snakes on the wall are given a bath with milk and then revered.
According to Hindu puranic literature, Kashyapa, son of Lord Brahma, the creator had four consorts and the third wife was Kadroo who belonged to the Naga race of the Pitru Loka and she gave birth to the Nagas; among the other three, the first wife gave birth to Devas, the second to Garuda and the fourth to Daityas.
In the Mahabharata epic story, Astika, the Brahmin son of Jaratkarus, who stopped the Sarpa Satra of Janamejaya, king of the Kuru empire which lasted for 12 years is well documented. This yagna was performed by Janamejaya to decimate the race of all snakes, to avenge for the death of his father Parikshit due to snake bite of Takshaka, the king of snakes. The day that the yagna (fire sacrifice) was stopped, due to the intervention of the Astika, was on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day in the month of Shravan when Takshaka, the king of snakes and his remaining race at that time were saved from decimation by the Sarpa Satra yagna. Since that day, the festival is observed as Nag Panchami.
There are many legends in Hindu mythology and folklore narrated to the importance of worship of snakes, such as in the Mahabharata. Indian mythological scriptures such as Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and Mahabharata give details of history of snakes extolling worship of snakes.
In the Mahabharata epic, Janamejeya, the son of King Parikshit of Kuru dynasty was performing a snake sacrifice known as Sarpa Satra, to avenge for the death of his father from a snake bite by the snake king called Taksaka. A sacrificial fireplace had been specially erected and the fire sacrifice to kill all snakes in the world was started by a galaxy of learned Brahmin sages. The sacrifice performed in the presence of Janamejaya was so powerful that it was causing all snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit). When the priests found that only Takshaka who had bitten and killed Parisksihit had escaped to the nether world of Indra seeking his protection, the sages increased the tempo of reciting the mantras (spells) to drag Takshaka and also Indra to the sacrificial fire. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indra’s cot but the force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that even Indra along with Takshaka were dragged towards the fire. This scared the gods who then appealed to Manasadevi to intervene and resolve the crisis. She then requested her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and appeal to Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna. Astika impressed Janamejaya with his knowledge of all the Sastras (scriptures) who granted him to seek a boon. It was then that Astika requested Janamejeya to stop the Sarpa Satra. Since the king was never known to refuse a boon given to a Brahmin, he relented, in spite of protects by the rishis performing the yagna. The yagna was then stopped and thus the life of Indra and Takshaka and his other serpent race were spared. This day, according to the Hindu Calendar, happened to be Nadivardhini Panchami (fifth day of bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravan during the monsoon season) and since then the day is a festival day of the Nagas as their life was spared on this day. Indra also went to Manasadevi and worshipped her.
According to Garuda Purana offering prayers to snake on this day is auspicious and will usher good tidings in one’s life. This is to be followed by feeding Brahmins. 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.
Another associated legend claims that 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.
Apart from the scriptural mention about snakes and the festival, there are also many folk tales. On such tale is of a farmer living in a village. He had two sons and one of whom killed three snakes during ploughing operations. The mother of the snake took revenge on the same night by biting the farmer, his wife and two children and they all died. Next day the farmer’s only surviving daughter, distraught and grieved by the death of her parents and brothers, pleaded before the mother snake with an offering of a bowl of milk and requested for forgiveness and to restore the life of her parents and brothers. Pleased with this offering the snake pardoned them and restored the farmer and his family to life.
In folklore, snakes also refer to the rainy season – the varsha ritu in Sanskrit. They are also depicted as deities of ponds and rivers and are said to be the embodiment of water as they spring out of their holes, like a spring of water.
Nag Panchami Puja
Nag Panchami Puja Muhurat = 05:46 to 08:21
Duration = 2 Hours 36 Mins
Panchami Tithi Begins = 15:24 on 12/Aug/2021
Panchami Tithi Ends = 13:42 on 13/Aug/2021
(Time varies from city to city)
Rituals observed this day:
1. People go to temples and snake pits in temples to worship the Nagas.
2. People fast on the Panchami day and take food only in the evening.
3. 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.
4. The person who performs worship of the serpents on Naga Panchami day should not dig the ground for farming or for any other reason.
5. 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.
6. Ant hills and snake pits are worshipped by offering milk, a pinch of turmeric and kumkum.
7. 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.
8. Perform the Naga archana or Puja in your local temples to get relief from Naga Dosha.
9. No Hindu home may fry anything on the day of Nag Panchami. Only boiled and steamed food is preferred to be eaten.
Nag puja mantra
सर्वे नागाः प्रीयन्तां मे ये केचित् पृथ्वीतले।
ये च हेलिमरीचिस्था येऽन्तरे दिवि संस्थिताः॥
ये नदीषु महानागा ये सरस्वतिगामिनः।
ये च वापीतडगेषु तेषु सर्वेषु वै नमः॥
Nav Nag Stotra
अनन्तं वासुकिं शेषं पद्मनाभं च कम्बलम्।
शङ्ख पालं धृतराष्ट्रं तक्षकं कालियं तथा॥
एतानि नव नामानि नागानां च महात्मनाम्।
सायङ्काले पठेन्नित्यं प्रातःकाले विशेषतः।
तस्य विषभयं नास्ति सर्वत्र विजयी भवेत्॥