Nagara Panchami –Paying obeisance to the Serpent Deity

12:47 AM, Monday, July 23rd, 2012

nagara panchamiMangalore : Today is Nagara Panchami. A day when  Serpent God is worshipped with great devotion by devout Hindus all over the nation. It is a day when the serpent God is offered milk, ghee and other offerings in abundance in order to crave  his blessings.

Nagara Panchami is the first of the Hindu festivals celebrated in the month of Shravana.It is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravana. This is the time when serpents move out of their holes that get filled with rain-water to seek shelter in gardens and many times in houses. Right from the times when mankind started acquiring some sort of culture, Sun and Snake have been invoked with prayers and ritual worship in most of the countries. In India even before the Vedic times, the tradition of snake-worship was in vogue.

The custom of worshipping serpents was prevalent even before the Vedic period. Like the sun, rivers and the holy fig tree, which the people worship as representatives of Mother Nature, people started fearing the serpents.

In Dakshina Kannada, worships like Naga Tambila, Panchamritabhisheka, are popular methods of appeasing the serpent god. Kukke Sri Subrahmanya Temple in Sullia taluk, Manjeshwar temple in Kasargod district and Sri Anantha Padmanabha Temple at Kudupu in Mangalore  are some of the places thronged by the devotees to offer various pujas and services on Nagara Panchami day.

On this day people gather in large numbers at “Naga banas” and offer pujas to the serpent god. Huge crowds visit  the Ananthapadmanabha Temple at Kudupu in Mangalore taluk from the early hours of the day. The special “alankara” made to Lord Ananthapadmanabha on this day comprises sandal and turmeric paste, locally grown flowers and “Abhishekas.”

The Nagarapanchami has a special importance in Dakshina Kannada. Naga worship in the form of “Naga mandala,” a folk ritual of the district, will henceforth begin in various places.People get together to have a community Nagapanchami, making offerings to the naga god. “Naga Tambila,” a special puja, is also  organized.

Naga Panchami is one of the most ancient fasts in India and also finds mention in the Puranas. It is believed to be one of the most auspicious days of the entire year. According to the Bhavishya Purana, when men bathe the snakes Vasuki, Takshaka, Kaliya, Manibhadra, Airavata, Dhritarashtra, Karkotaka and Dhananjaya with milk, on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Shravan, they ensure freedom from danger for their families. As per a legend, on the day of Naga Panchami, ploughing a field is forbidden.

There are a number of legends associated with Nagara panchami. One legend says it that once during tilling his land, a farmer accidentally killed some young serpents. The mother of these serpents took revenge by biting and killing the farmer and his family, except one daughter, who happened to be praying to the Nagas. This act of devotion resulted in the revival of the farmer and the rest of his family. Since then, Nagara Panchami has been celebrated in India. It is believed that in reward for worship, snakes will never bite any member of the family.

A special delicacy  called Patholi, wherein  rice paste is smeared on a turmeric leaf and then filled with coconut and jiggery mix, and baked.

Truly, this is a great day for Hindus, when the Serpent God is worshipped, a celebration unique in the whole world.


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