Being a land of ancient traditions, mystic philosophies and rich culture; all of India’s festivals are long-awaited for they are always fun and unique in their own way. Our festivals are quite popular across the world for being grand, colorful and with each having its own legend. To witness any of India’s festivals is to witness the true manifestation of India’s extremely rich and varied culture.
How India’s Culture Gave Snakes a Divine Status
India has a huge number of Gods and Goddesses whom they worship every year. And out of these millions of Gods and Goddesses, snakes constitute an important faction. Well, Hindu mythology has its own place for animals and birds as gods and demigods along with other mainstream deities. Snakes are worshipped, and so are bear, peacock, monkey, cow, elephant, tiger and so on and so forth. Thus every year in the month of Shravan, which is a very auspicious month in the Hindu Calendar, Nag Panchami is celebrated by the worshippers of Lord Shiva, a deity that is closely related to snakes and serpents.
The Legend Behind Nag Panchami
There are various stories in Hindu mythology explaining the significance of worshipping serpents and there are many folk tales related to this festival as well. One such tale is that of a farmer whose son killed snakes while ploughing his field. The mother of the snake took revenge and bit the farmer’s family and only his daughter survived. The grieving daughter prayed to the mother snake with a bowl of milk and asked for forgiveness and restoration of the life of her family. Pleased with her prayers, the mother snake restored her family. That day was also the fifth day of the bright half of the Lunar month of Shravan. Ever since then, serpents and snakes have been worshiped in India and Nepal. Snakes are offered milk, sweet, and flowers, honey, sandalwood paste and turmeric with reverence. Special delicacies called Yellu chigali (Sesame seeds sweet), Thambittu (gram flour laddoo), besan laddoo, jowar rotis are prepared and offered to the Serpent God. Similarly, ploughing is forbidden on this day.
The Significance of Worshipping Snakes in India
The significance behind worshipping snakes in India has a spiritual angle to it. It is believed that snakes are the only animals known to take revenge. They never forget and rarely forgive. Snakes are worshipped to erase wrongful acts done in the past and to seek protection for the worshipper’s family. In addition to this, snakes also signify our fears. Therefore, Nag Panchami is all about taming the ‘snakes within us’, which means conquering all our fears and cleansing ourselves of any wrongs.
This year Nag Panchami will be celebrated on the 5th of August. So let us come together with utmost devotion to appease the God of Snakes to help us conquer all our fears, cleanse our past karmas and learn to respect every creation of God – big or small, good or evil.
Wish to be part of this celebration? Here is a list of popular places you could visit this Nag Panchami to witness the celebrations of this mystifying and remarkable Hindu festival .