Out of several anecdotes of Hindu Mythology, Nag Panchami is also one of the auspicious occasions and a grand festival of Nepal, which is celebrated in the Panchami Tithi of Shukla Paksha of the Shravan month of Hindu calendar. Nag Panchami is celebrated in different ways according to the cultures and traditions of the locality in Nepal. Considering the Snakes are the savior of the human race from the rage of the evil demons, they are worshipped as the protector. Humans not only worship snakes, but also the air, water, sun, moon, mountain, river, nature, etc. This indirectly or directly led to creating a system in organizing the social beliefs, local trends, and deities to sort the culture stand-by in the societies. There are many legends and stories related to Nag Panchami in the Hindu religions.
Here is a popular legend saying that Lord Krishna defeated the Kaliya (snake) in a heroic battle which was sent by his uncle, Kansa to kill him. Thus, this day of victory of good over evil is celebrated as Nag Panchami as Lord Krishna blessed Kalia saying whosoever will worship the snakes and offer milk and enchant prayers on this day, will be relieved from all the sins and the troubles.
Another epic story is tied to the “SAMUDRA-MANTHAN”. It is greatly believed that during Samudra-Manthan, many kinds of herbs and potions were produced that were equally shared among the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons). But also, a pot of deadly poison was also churned that was destructive to the earth. Hence, Lord Shiva drank the poison and few drops that fell on the ground were drunk by the snakes, closest aides of Lord Shiva. In order to soothe the deadliest effect of the poison, Ganga Abhishek was performed on Lord Shiva and the snakes, offering milk. Hence, this act made the humans worship Lord Shiva and the snakes by offering milk on this auspicious day.
The story of Astika, the son of Jaratkarus, is also directly related to Nag Panchami day. He is the one who stopped the SARPA SATRA YAGNA (fire sacrifice) of King Janamejaya, the ruler of the Kuru Empire. This fire sacrifice lasted for 12 years. This yagna was initiated with the sole purpose to end the entire race of the snakes to avenge the death of a father of King Janamejaya. He died due to the snake bite of Takshaka, the king of Snakes. The day when the yagna was ended is observed as the Nag Panchami festival to thank Astika to save the race of Snakes from the annihilation of the Sarpa Satra yagna.
Also, there is the belief that the SheshNaag, elder brother of Lord Krishna holds the entire Earth on its head, symbolizing the Eternity. Also, snakes are the aides or companions of Lord Shiva and lie around his neck as his ornaments.
Such stories or myths have made this Nag Panchami, a special holy day. There are some special methods and manners to worship this day of Nag Panchami. Cleaning of houses, preparing different sweets and confectioneries, making the snakes out of cow dung, doing prayers and Pooja after taking bath in the early morning, worshipping with Clothing thread, Sandalwood, Haridra, Saffron, Sindoor, Seasonal fruits, jewelry, garlands of flowers, Dhup or agarbatti, nagedya, Tambol, belpatra, etc and keeping Fast are some particular ways to complete the worshipping. Special mantras are chanted while worshipping.
Bulks of stories, legends, myths, etc. are stored in the vast Hindu religion and Puranas. Buddhism and Jainism also worship Snakes believing the sacred creature of nature with immense Divine powers and qualities. Even though the exact origin of this Nag Panchami festival is unknown, it is celebrated worldwide among the followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and also Jainism. Nag Panchami is a unique festival of Nepal especially dedicated to the snakes as our saviours.
Author: Step On Himalaya
Date: 16th August, 2018