City gears up for Nag Panchami
We all must have heard that God is present in each of his creations. That logic applies to not just humans but animals as well.
We all must have heard that God is present in each of his creations. That logic applies to not just humans but animals as well. It is in this spirit that snakes are honoured with special devotion during Nag Panchami, which falls today.
The festival of Nag Panchami has its own religious importance and is celebrated in many parts of the country. The day of Nag Panchami is the fifth day after Amavasya in the Indian calendar. Naga Chaturthi is commonly called as Nagula Chaviti which is celebrated twice a year during the Hindu months of Sravana and Kartika.
During this day women fast for the well-being of their family and to protect them from snake bites. People pay a visit to the temples of Lord Shiva. The serpent God, Lord Pingala in Odisha, is adorned by a paste made of gold, silver or rice in the shape of a snake. In south India, figures of snakes drawn with red sandalwood paste on wooden boards or clay images coloured in yellow or black, are sold. These are then worshipped and offered milk since snakes are believed to like milk.
Women in both Telangana and Andhra state will celebrate the Nagula Chavithi festival worshipping the serpent Gods and Goddesses. Devotees pour milk into all the holes in the ground around the house or near the temple to propitiate them. Sometimes, a small pot of milk with some flowers is placed near the holes so that the snakes may drink it. If a snake actually drinks the milk, it is considered to be extremely lucky for the devotee.
In South India, people sculpt images of snakes using cow dung, which are then placed on either side of the entrance to the house. This is done to welcome the snake God.
A five hooded snake is made by mixing ‘Gandh’ (a fragrant pigment), ‘halad-kumkum’ (turmeric powder), ‘chandan’ (sandal) and ‘kesar’ (saffron) and placed on a metal plate and worshipped.
The legend behind Nagula Chavithi is that during the churning of the ocean by Gods and demons in search of ‘Amrutham’ (the nectar of immortality), a snake was used as rope and in the process and a terrible poison (garalam) emerged. The poison would have engulfed the whole world, but for Lord Shiva, who swallowed it and retained it in gis throat. His throat turned blue – hence, Lord Shiva was named Neelakantha. However, a few drops spilled and to ward off the evil effects, people worship the Cobra, the king of snakes, to pacify the brood and protect themselves from any ill.