Nag Panchami Traditions

One of the most sacred Indian festivals, Nag Panchami is dedicated to the worship of snakes and snake-gods. A unique occassion, Nag Panchami is a festival unparalleled. As with any other festival, Nag Panchami also has its own unique traditions. Scroll down and go through the traditions related to the Nag Panchami festival. These are some of the most amazing customs that you have ever heard of and these . If you like reading about Nag Panchami Traditions and want to let your friends and near ones know about these too, just click here and refer this page to them. Wish you a happy Nag Panchami celebration.
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Read about some of the most intrinsic rituals of the Nag Panchami festival. Most of these have been observed since time immemorial and are still maintained.

Come the month of Shravan and there seems to be an obsession with snakes all over India. And why not? This is the time to celebrate the sacred Nagapanchami festival and pay obeisances to snakes and the snake-God.

Numerous traditions are associated with the Nagapanchami festival and are performed all over the country though a little differently from region to region owing to the fact that India is a vast multicultural land.

In Eastern Bengal, Nag Panchami is observed on the fifth day in the dark fortnight of the Bengali month of Shravana (July-August), the advent of the rainy season. It is the time when snakes leave their holes in the flooded fields and jungles and enter the habitations of men, resulting in a huge loss of lives from snake-bite. The fact that Nag Panchami is celebrated more in the rural areas underlines the dread of snakes of the simple village folk who saw in the worship of the snake-goddess Manasa a way to obtain respite from snakes. The worship of the snake-goddess Manasa is still done and carried out mainly by the womenfolk of the villages, who not only worship the goddess in the dark fortnight of Shravana but they also pay devoirs to her on the last days (Sankranti) of the months of the Hindu months of Asadh (June-July) and Shravana. Before going to sleep, devout women pay obeisances to Maa Manasa with folded palms and repeatedly touch their foreheads with the outstretched thumbs. Next morning, immediately after waking from sleep they utter the name of Goddess Durga several times before leaving their beds. The illiterate folks recite the story of Behula, as embodied in the Padmapurana, to the sounds of the tom-tom and the cymbal.

On the day of the festival, boiled rice may not be taken. Unboiled milk and five plantains form the main offerings to the goddess Manasa. No incense may be burnt at the time of worshipping her. The goddess is worshipped with the mumbling of the following mantra:

O DeviAmba Ma Hona ShashaDharVandana CharuKanti Badanya
Dansarurasundara SulalitNayana Sevita SiddhiKameh
Rupe Rasya Manditandago KanakManiGaneh NagRatneRanekeh
Bandeh Sashtananga Darukuchyugla Bhogini Kamrupa

It is believed in Eastern India that whosoever performs the Nagpanchami vrata(religious practice carried out to achieve divine blessing or for fulfillment of desires) is blessed by Goddess Manasa and she preserves the worshipper's children from all harm, whether they are in water or in the jungle, and bless them with happiness. Obeisance is made to the goddess with the recital of the undernoted mantra:

Astokashya MuneMaata Bhagini Basukestatha
Jaratkarumuneh pali Manasadevi Namostute

In Western India, Nagpanchami is observed on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month Shravana (August-September). The day is held sacred to the Nagas or serpents. Early in the morning of this day, each household gets created a clay image of a snake. Often a brood of five, seven or nine serpents is painted on a wooden board or on a wall with sandalwood or turmeric paste. These images are used for the purpose of worship. Flowers, sandalwood paste, turmeric, parched rice and beans, or parched gram, and jowari (Holens Sorghum) are placed in different vessels(made of the horns of wild buffaloes) and placed before the serpent images. Lamps are lighted and waved before them. Incense is burnt and various eatables and fruits are offered to the ophidian idols. A lamp is kept lighted all day long close to the snake-deities. Offerings of milk and eatables are also kept standing in close proximity of the images. On this festival day, the people take only boiled food. In the afternoon, people go to an ant-hill or other locality believed to be occupied by snakes to make their offerings. Snake-charmers also come to these places and hold an exhibition of their pet snakes. During Nag-Panchami, snake-charmers can be seen every now and then with their baskets filled with dangerous snakes that they keep as their pets. They are are seen sitting by the roadsides or moving about from place to place playing melodious notes on their flutes, and calling "Nagoba-la dudh de Mayi" (give milk to the Cobra Oh Mother!). This is meant for the women of the houses who come out on hearing the cry and sprinkle haldi-kumkum ( turmeric – vermilion) and flowers on the heads of the snakes. Then they offer sweetened milk and pray to the snakes. The snake-charmers are also rewarded for their services with money and old clothes - the amount of which varies according to the status of the devotee. On the festival night, the worshippers stay awake all night for "keeping the serpents awake" though this is often viewed as fear on their part of getting bitten by snakes. The ceremonies come to an end with an elder member of the family reciting a legend setting forth the origin of snake-worship in Western India. Ploughing or digging is strictly prohibited in Western India on the day of the Nagpanchami festival.

In the Canara district of Southern India, the festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month Shravana. On the day of the festival, stone or metal images of the snake-deities are usually set up under the shadow of pipal trees (Ficus religiosa). The worship-ceremonies are performed by women of the higher classes. In the Telugu and Tamil districts, Nagpanchami is observed on the chaturtha din (fourth day) of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika, Vaisakha or Magha, and so it the festival is known here as "Nagalu-chavati" or the Naga-chaturthi. The manner of snake-worship practiced here resemble the traditions prevalent in Western India. In these parts also, the people go to the popularly believed to be tenanted by the ophidian deities to make their offering to them.
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