TV9 Discussion: ‘Naga Panchami’ Poojege Baro Nagappa – Part 4/6….,
Nāg Panchamī (Devanagari: नाग पंचमी) is a festival during which religious Hindus in some parts of India worship live Nāgas (cobras) or images of them. It is celebrated on the fifth day after Amavasya of the month of Shraavana. Traditionally, married young women visit their premarital households to celebrate the festival. Especially in villages in India, a traditional aspect of the celebration involves joyous swinging by young women on swings temporarily hung on tree branches.
According to Puranic scriptures, Brahma’s son Kashyapa had four wives. The “first” wife gave birth to Devas; the second, to Garudas; the third—named Kadroo–, to Nāgas; and the fourth, to Daityas. Nāgas were the rulers of Pātāl-Loka.
The following Sanskrit names of Nine Great Nāgas, namely, Ananta, Vāsuki, Shesha, Padmanābha, Kambala, Shankhapāla, Dhārtarāshtra, Takshaka, and Kaliya:
According to the scriptures, Lord Krishna had conquered Naga Kālia and put an end to his evil deeds on Nāga Panchamī. It is believed that the Kathmandu valley used to be a vast lake. When human beings started to drain the lake to make space for settlements, Nagas became enraged. To protect themselves against the wrath of Nagas, people gave the latter certain areas as pilgrimage destinations, restoring thus harmony in nature.
According to other scriptures, a king used his Tantric powers to force Nagas to return to the land rains which they had taken away. The Nagas gave in to the king’s Tantric power, but in recognition of their power to control rains, the king established Naga Panchami festival.
In Jainism and Buddhism also snake is regarded as sacred and has divine qualities. It is believed that a Cobra snake saved the life of Buddha and another protected the Jain Muni Parshwanath.
During the festival, Nepalese traditionally post pictures of Nagas above the doors of their homes to ward off evil spirits, offer prayers to Nagas, and place food items such as milk and honey in their fields for Nagas. A few men wearing demon masks dance in the streets as a part of a ritual. Hindus in Nepal have their own legends surrounding Nagas, which lead them to celebrate Nāga Panchamī on a large scale.
In South India
On this day, married women and the girls wake up early in the morning, take head bath, arrange the things necessary for puja and start to reach the nearest Ant Hill (Snake’s Home). They offer puja and milk to the Ant home and pray to Snake God (Indian Cobra – Lord Subramanya’s Incarnation) for the wellness of their brothers and their families. This day is like RakshaBandhan for South Indian Hindus. If there is no Ant Hill nearby, they offer milk and puja to the snake statues erected in the nearby temples. A portion of milk taken for puja is taken back home and offered to everyone at home as prasadam (Thirtham).
They invite their brothers to their home. They immerse a flower in the leftover milk and apply it on their brothers’ back and perform Arathi for their wellbeing. They also gift them as per their wish and also the brothers of the women wish for their wellbeing and gift them as per their wish.
Sweets like Kadubu (Kannada, Kudumulu in Telugu), Nuchununde (Kannada, Kanduntalu in Telugu – a spicy item made of dal cooked in steam) are prepared, offered to Lord and then distributed. This festival is observed on the fifth day of Shravana month of Hindu lunar calendar after the amavasya of Ashada month.
This festival tries to bring the Sisters (married or unmarried) and their Brothers together for family welfare.