Celebrated on Panchami (the fifth day) of Shukla Paksha of Shravan month (July-August), Nag Panchami is one of the many festivals of the monsoon season. This day is dedicated to the worship of the Nag Devtas – snake gods. Hindu scriptures herald this day as Nagamanandakari, which means the happiest day for Nag Devtas.
There are twelve snakes that are worshipped on this day – Ananta, Vasuki, Shesha, Padma, Kambala, Karkotaka, Shankhapala, Kaliya, Takshaka, Ashvatara, Dhritarashtra, and Pingala.
According to one legend, this day is celebrated as a form of Lord Krishna’s victory over Kaliya Nag in River Yamuna. Another legend speaks of Sheshnag – the serpent that adorns Lord Shiva neck. It is believed that the entire earth is balanced on Sheshnag’s back, and worshipping snakes on this day provides protection from the danger of snakes.
It is also believed that people with ‘Kaal Sarp Dosh’ in their horoscope can benefit greatly and remove the unwanted influences by worshipping on this day.
As part of the worship, people create serpent-shaped idols out of silver, wood, and stone or make paintings of snakes. The idols are bathed with milk and devotees seek blessings for the welfare of the family. In some parts of the country, live snakes like cobras are also worshipped and offered milk. A fast is observed on this day, the house entrances and outside walls are painted with snake motifs and auspicious mantras to ward off evil.
Some other ways that this festival is observed:
- Worship which includes an offering of milk, sweets, and lotus flowers
- Recitation of Nag Panchami mantras
- Avoiding ploughing of earth
- Sewing with needle-threads on this day is considered auspicious
The following mool-mantra can be recited during the pooja:
।। ॐ नागकुलाय विधमहे विषदन्ताय धीमहि
तन्नो सर्पा प्रचोदयात ।।