Naag Panchami – How and why is it significant?

Naag Panchami which is also known as Garuda Panchami is a festival that is celebrated across the country. This year Naag Panchami will be celebrated on 7th August to please Goddess of snakes Ma Mansa Devi, to avoid the possibility of snake bite and chances of losing life due to snake bike. In old days there was no advanced medical facilities available in remote villages. People living in those villages were having the fear of snake bite in their mind and thus they used to pray and worship Ma Mansa Devi to avoid the risks of life. In rainy season, when the fields get filled with rain water, snakes come out of their normal habitat searching for a safe place to live. The chances of encountering snakes increase during this time. On the eve of fifth lunar tithi of the bright lunar half of the month of Shravan of our Hindu calendar, people observe Naag Panchami and worship Ma Mansa Devi.

There are different mythological stories about celebrating Naag Panchami. One of them is about the victory of Lord Krishna over furious snake ‘Kaaliya Naag’ who used to terrify people every now and then. Lord Krishna, although a child at that time, fought with the snake to the defeat of the snake. And in return Lord Krishna take a promise from ‘Kaaliya Naag’ to not to harass or terrify people to let them live peacefully. As per some belief it is the day on which Lord Krishna defeated ‘Kaaliya Naag’ to ward off terrifying environment around.

As per Hindu Puranic literature, creator Brahma’s son Kashyap has four spouses and the third one, namely Kadroo, belonged to Naag race and she is the mother of snakes. Other three wives are mothers of Devtas, Garuda and Daityas, by sequence.

In the Mahabharata it is mentioned that Astika Muni, son of Jaratkaru, made an effort to stop the yagna performed by Janmejaya, which was meant to finish the Naag race, because his father Parikshit died because of bite of Takshak, Naag Raaj. The yagna was stopped on the fifth lunar tithi of bright half of Shravan month of Hindu Calendar. And from then this tithi is being celebrated as Naag Panchami.

On the fifth day of Panchami tithi of bright lunar half of Sharvan month, people wash the idol of Snakes made of silver, stones or wood and duly wash them with water and milk and then worship accordingly with flower, lamp, milk and fruits as per their capacity with full dedication and devotion.

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