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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Nag Panchami


nag panchamiNag Panchami (Devanagari: नाग पंचमी) is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India and also in Nepal. The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravan (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar. The abode of snakes is believed to be patal lok, (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth and lowest of them is also called Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas, as part of the creation force and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Serpent deity made of silver, stone or wood or the painting of snakes on the wall are given a bath with milk and then revered.

On the Nag Panchami day Nag, cobras, and snakes are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps and even sacrifices. Fast is observed on this day and Brahmins are fed. The piety observed on this day is considered a sure protection against the fear of snake bite. At many places, real snakes are worshipped and fairs held. On this day digging the earth is taboo as it could kill or harm snakes which reside in the earth. Images of Nag deities made of silver, stone, wood, or paintings on the wall are first bathed with water and milk and then worshipped with the reciting of the following mantras.

Roman alphabet: Naga preeta bhavanti shantimapnoti via vibohSashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samh

IAST: Nāga prītā bhavanti śāntimāpnoti bia viboh
saśanti loka mā sādhya modate sasthitaḥ samaḥ

Rough translation: Let all be blessed by the snake goddess, let everyone obtain peace
Let all live peacefully without any turbulence.

On this occasion doorways and walls outside the house are painted with pictures of snakes, auspicious mantras (spells) are also written on them. It is believed that such depictions will ward off poisonous snakes. Nag Panchami is also the occasion observed as Bhratru Panchami when women with brothers worship snakes and its holes, and offer prayers to propitiate nagas so that their brothers are protected and do not suffer or die due to snake bite.


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