A snake is called ‘Nag’ and Nag Panchami is a festival celebrated for worshipping and showing respect to the snakes. Nag Panchami is observed on the fifth Panchami day of the waxing phase of the Moon in the Shravan month (July-August).
Why is Nag Panchami Celebrated?
There are said to be many reasons behind the observance of Nag Panchami. Here, let us get to know about some of them.
One legend associates the occasion with Lord Krishna. One day, the boy Krishna was playing with his mates on the bank of river Yamuna when the ball is said to have fallen in the waters. That spot in the river happened to be the place of residence of the mighty serpent Kaliya, who is said to have attacked Krishna when he jumped into the river to procure the ball. Krishna fought a fierce battle with the poisonous snake, subdued him at last and made him vacate the place. It is said that the occasion Krishna performed this feat is celebrated as Nag Panchami.
According to our religious beliefs, Surya, the Sun God, Agni, the God of fire, our departed ancestors and snakes are some of the objects held in high reverence. Snakes are also said to represent the immense power of the Sun. Nag Panchami is the occasion for appeasing the snake Gods, which are held in high esteem. It is also considered special to pray to the snake-God on the fifth day on the month, and hence, Shravan Panchami, the fifth day of Shravan is chosen for the snake worship and celebrated as Nag Panchami.
Shravan signals the beginning of the monsoon, and hence, the farmers start their agricultural operations after that. Their fields remain as the dwelling places of the snakes, and those reptiles are going to be disturbed and displaced when the farmers start their tilling activities. Nag Panchami is said to be held at that time, as a means of pacifying the snakes.
Snakes are among the endangered species, which are harmed and killed by people for many reasons. While these are killed in the name of research and for producing medicines for severe ailments, they are also tortured for extracting venom, which is regarded as very precious. These reptiles are at times displayed in public shows and harmed seriously in the process.
Awareness needs to be created among the people that snakes are majestic beings which have a right to exist without hindrance and Nag Panchami serves as an occasion for spreading such a noble message.
Along with vegetation, living beings like animals, birds, and reptiles too are part of nature. It is only in the interest of the human beings that they live in harmony with all forms of life and avoid any conflict with them, as that may harm their interest in the end. Nag Panchami can be taken as the occasion to highlight this bond with nature and to drive home the point of living with mutual respect with all beings.
On the day of Nag Panchami, while some people try to feed the snakes with items like milk, many others worship snake idols, which are installed in several temples and make offerings of food items to them. They also worship Shiva on that day, as he is regarded as the Lord and the protector of the serpents.