2020 Naag Puja
Naag Puja falls on 25th July this year and there is an ornate Naag Puja vidhi that is performed on this day all across the vast country of India & Nepal. It is also celebrated by a small group of people in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Naag Puja is performed during this day across the entire country. Naag Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Shravan (July or August). It is usually a festival celebrated on the brighter half of the lunar month (Shukla Paksh). However, in some places like Gujarat, people celebrate Naag Panchami on the darker half of the same month (Krishna paksh). According to the monetary condition of the community, an idol is often made up of silver, wood, stone, or even a painting of a snake is sometimes worshipped.
On other times, if someone is individually celebrating this day, then the Naag Puja Vidhi would include making a Rangoli of a five hooded snake and would require to keep a lotus on a silver bowl with milk and crystallised sugar in another, colloquially known as rice pudding.
We would tell you further about
- History & legend behind Naag Panchami.
- The folktales associated with this day.
- The Naag Puja vidhi.
- The worshipping mantra
- Different ways in which people across the country celebrate this auspicious day.
History & legends behind Naag Panchami:
Did you know that it was during this special sacrifice of snakes arranged by King Janamejaya to avenge his father, Parikshita’s death, that the complete Mahabharata was narrated for the first time ever, by the famous sage Vaisampayana.
Naag Puja Vidhi for Naag Panchami is celebrated for the below mentioned historical reason.
According to Shrimad Bhagvat, Takshaka is a descendant of the Ikshvaku dynasty. He lived in the Khandava forest with other tribes like the Pisacha, Rakshasas, Daityas, Danavas (various different clans of Asuras) and the purest races of Asuras.
Arjuna burned the forest at the command of Agni, the Fire-God. He also slew Ashwasena’s mother. Ashwasena, the son of King Takshaka was also known to be from the race of the Airavata. Takshak was away visiting Kurukshetra during this period of time. Ashwasena and Mayasura, one of the greatest architects of all times escaped the fire somehow.
During the battle of Kurukshetra, Takshaka’s one more son, Brihadbala was killed by Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu. Even Ashwasena participated in the war representing the clan of Airavata and fought the mighty Karna during the war.
This is where the turn of events brought us to this very auspicious day of Naag Panchami. Abhimanyu’s son Parikshita is deemed to have been a great king of his time. One day while hunting, driven by thirst and hunger, he reached a Rishi’s place, who was observing silence during that period of time. After repeated requests when the Rishi did not open his eyes to help King Parikshit, the great king then garlanded the rishi with a dead snake and went off his way. Soon Rishi's son, Sringin, overheard this story from a friend. Unable to bear the insult, he cursed the King. As per the curse, Rishi Parikshit was to die on the seventh day from that day bitten by Takshak himself.
The rishi informed Parikshit soon after about the curse and a grand palace was built for him which had only one tiny entrance. On the seventh day, Takshak met a Kashyap rishi who was on his way to Parikshit’s palace. But after testing the prowess of the Kashyapa, King Takashaka requested the sage to allow him the grace to fulfill his duty. Kashyap did foresee the King’s death in Takshaka’s hands and thus left the scene.
Janamejaya arranged for a Sarpamedha Yagna. It symbolises a battle that Janamejaya fought with the Nagas in Takshashila, the abode where King Takshaka built his refuge after the fire in the Khandava forests. Takshaka took refuge with Indra. They prayed to Manasa Devi, and she arranged her son Ashtika to stop the massacre of the Naga dynasty. Manasa was a Naga and Ashtika’s father was although a Brahmin. Impressed by Ashtika’s brilliance Janamejaya offered him a boon and Ashtika asked for the lives of the Nagas.
Finally the slaying was stopped. The day when the Sarpamedha Yagna was stopped, was the fifth day of the brighter phase of the lunar month of Shravan. Hence, Naag Panchami is celebrated on this very day every year. Naag Puja Vidhi is a very old process now in India, and is celebrated all across the country every year.
The folktales associated with this day
There are many folktales around the day of Naag Panchami. One such folktale goes in this way. A woman could not give birth and she was removed from her house and village. For an entire night, she sat under a tree that housed the kingdom of a few Snakes and prayed quietly to the Universe.
Here is Kala Sarpa Dosha Calculator.
The next day, when she was about to leave the shades of the tree, she saw the children of the village were carrying out one after the other corpses from the village. Upon asking, they informed that the previous night, the entire village elders were bitten by snakes. She went back to the tree and found that her tears had washed the idols of the snakes all night. That day, was known as Naag Panchami.
The Naag Puja vidhi
The Hindus believe in Idol worshipping of Naag Gods according to the rituals of Naag Puja Vidhi. The main reason why idol worshipping was started is a different story altogether. The energy of any object often resonates with the energy of the good world. These particular natural elements are often used as focal points where the cosmic rays merge. Such objects do not hold the energy, however radiates it out. Thus people standing nearest to these objects can definitely benefit from these energy sources.
Idols are now made of every other natural element. A Naga statue as per the Naag Puja Vidhi is usually preferred. Garlands, honey, milk and black Til (sesame seeds with the husk) are often poured on the statue. Sweets are offered and some people also offer Kheer (milk pudding) to the snake Gods. Anthills are known to house the snakes, sometimes, milk is offered even on anthills.
Contrary to the belief, milk is poured over them to relieve them of the microbial parasites that can destroy their skin killing the snake eventually. Raw milk, honey and the flower petals majorly marigold and hibiscus have medicinal properties. Often a snake is found swimming in this pool of raw milk, honey and flowers making people believe that the snakes eat and drink the milk. However, that is not the case. They often come to this solution knowing its medicinal properties and swim in it, to get rid of these parasitic infestations and wounds.
Lamps are lit, songs are sung and hymns are recited all night as the heavy downpour on this particular night helps in the process of healing the snakes.
Next day, people feast and distribute the sweets that they offered amongst themselves. If some sweet is touched by the snakes, that sweet is distributed in the whole clan.
Read here Naag Panchami Vrat Puja Vidhi.
Naag Puja The worshipping Mantra
The main mantra or hymn chanted by the people during this night almost always begins with
“Naga preeta bhavanti shantimapnoti via viboh
Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samh
Anantam Vasukim Shesham Padmanabham Cha Kabalam
Shankhapalam Dhritarashtram Cha Takshakam Kaliyam
Tatha Etani Nava Namani Naganam Cha Mahatmanah
Sayankale Pathennityam Pratahkale Visheshatah Tasya
Vishabhayam Nasti Sarvatra Vijayi Bhavet”
Different ways in which people across the country celebrate this auspicious day
Let us see how or why Nag Panchami is celebrated in each and every part of India.
Snakes were more powerful than humans once upon a time. The Hindu mythology believes that if the seven planets are arranged in a reverse order between the two nodes, Rahu & Ketu, then the person is inevitably under the Kala Sarpa Dosha (the protector of time is not happy with that particular soul).
The Snakes still are a major part of the Indian system and community. Let’s see how they’re celebrated all across the country.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple in Ujjain is open only for one day in the whole year, on Naag Panchami alone. For the rest of the year, the temple is closed. It is said that Takshaka, the great King of the Sarpa dynasty lives here and praying in this temple can remove all the sins of the human being.
In Central India, Nagpur is a place that was once ruled by the snakes who later embraced Buddhism and propagated it across the world. Nagoba temple in Mahal is the centre where thousands throng to felicitate this festival. Nagdwar Yatra on Panchami is also an arduous pilgrimage Yatra taken up on this day by many people.
In North and NorthWestern India, there are several famous places where this festival is celebrated. One such place is Varanasi. In Punjab, this festival is celebrated in the month of Bhadra and is known as Gugga Naumi, the ninth day of the month.
In Western part of India, this festival is known as Khetarpal. Bhuj is named after Bhujang, a name for the snakes in this part of the country. Bhujang Nag was the brother of Sheshnag. It is believed that Bhujang Nag came from Thangadh of the Kathiawar peninsula and rescued Kutch from the oppression of the demons and Rakshasas.
In Sindhi community, Naag Panchami is celebrated to honour Gogro.
In the Eastern and North-Eastern India, in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Orissa Goddess Manasa is worshipped on this day. Manasa was the wife of Jaratkuru, and gave birth to a very intelligent son, Ashtika. The twig of a white plant, Euphorbia lingularum is worshipped. Mother Manasa converted her energy in her ripe age, transforming into this plant form that has medicinal benefits against phlegm and tumour, for the greater benefit of the masses.
In South India, snakes are identified with Subramanya and with Shiva and Vishnu. In Karnataka, every village has a Naga devata, a single snake or a cluster of nine snakes worshipped together. Preparations for Naag Panchami begin on the Bheemana Amavasya. In Kerala, Ezhavas and Nairs are serpent worshippers.
In Nepal, the statue of Garuda in Changu Narayan temple sweats on this day, and people collect the sweat in a handkerchief and give it to their king. The king preserves it for a year and each thread is supposed to be a potent drug for treating snake bites and tuberculosis.
Women fast the previous day and pray at the Tharavad Sarpa Kavu. Hibiscus flowers are dipped in milk and then they take Tirtham milk home. This milk is sprinkled on the brother and then a thread dipped in turmeric is placed on his arm. Lunch is served thereafter.
To conclude, the importance of Naag Panchami is celebrated across the entire country in different forms and ways. Oblations to the clan of the Nagas is a must. It is Vasuki on whose tail orbits the world around the Sun. Naag Puja Vidhi is done primarily to receive the blessings of the Snake Kingdom.
People pray to them seeking their blessings. Let’s see what kind of blessings people seek from them.
- Childless couples often pray the Nagas for a child.
- People who want a good married life often seek their blessings.
- When the snake bites have caused severe mental damage in a person who has recovered from a snake bite often prays for fast recovery.
Vasuki Nag sacrificed his entire life to take care of the human civilization carrying them upon his head. The sacrifices at every point by the people belonging to the Snake kingdom have helped unite and maintain human civilization. They have been Shiva’s favorite as Shiva wraps them around his neck. They are the ones who have played a major contributing role in shaping up the modern world. Thus, on Naag Panchami we worship this clan and honour their great history and contributions.