Nagara Panchami or Naga Panchami: The Day of Traditional Worship of Snakes

Nagara Panchami also popularly known as ‘Naga Panchami’ is the traditional Hindu festival day when the snakes are worshipped.

The name is due to the fact that the Nagara Panchami festival is always celebrated in the month of Shravana on the Fifth day of Shukla Paksha which is called Panchami, according to the Hindu calendar. Naga means ‘snake’ and ‘Panchami’ means the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month, hence the name Naga Panchami.

Why Is Nagara Panchami Celebrated on The Shravana Shukla Panchami Day?

There is a fascinating story behind the origin of Nagara Panchami celebrations. The legend goes like this.

A very long time ago, maybe 12th-9th centuries BCE, there lived a famous Kuru king named Parikshit.

According to the ancient scriptures, Parikshit is the son of Uttara and Abhimanyu (the son of Arjuna from Mahabharata). He was a great king and people were happily living in his kingdom.

But due to some unfortunate circumstances, king Parikshit gets cursed by a Brahman which ultimately ends in the death of the king by means of a snake bite. The snake which bit Parikshit was the king of snakes Takshaka.

When Janamejaya the son of Parikshith comes to know this he decides to avenge his father’s unfortunate death.

He vows to kill  ‘Takshaka’ the snake king and starts the Sarpamedha Yajna. This Yajna was done with the aim of killing all the snakes that existed at that time in the world. The snakes were made to come and fall in the fire (using Mantras) that was present in the Havana Kunda.

This Yajna forced each and every snake on the earth. However, one snake gets stuck around the chariot of the Sun-god himself. As it was being forced into the Yajna Kunda there was a threat of Surya Deva’s chariot itself being pulled into the Havana Kunda with Surya himself, which would have ultimately ended the whole creation.

nagara panchami

At this moment a great sage named Astika Muni enters the scene and convinces King Janamejaya to stop the Sarpamedha Yajna to protect the world from being destroyed.

Finally, when Takshaka comes to the Yajna place the Yajna itself has been stopped by Astika muni and Takshaka lives. This happened on the Shravana Shukla Panchami tithi which from that day onwards is being celebrated as ‘Nagara Panchami’ every year.

There is also an alternate version of this story according to which Takshaka after hearing about the Sarpamedha Yajna runs to Indra Loka asking for protection.

When the sages performing the Yajna come to know about this, they decide to chant powerful Mantras and force Takshaka along with Indra himself to the fire pit.

And it was then the great Muni Astika makes entry and calms down Janamejaya and convinces him to stop the Yajna.

How Is Nagara Panchami Celebrated?

On the day of Naga Panchami milk, sweets, flowers, lamps, incense sticks, etc. are used to worship snakes. However, most of the times images and idols or statues of snakes are worshipped as finding a real-life snake to offer the prayers becomes very difficult for obvious reasons.

On the day of Nagara Panchami, some people observe Upavasa Vratha or Fast. People in India celebrate this day by preparing a variety of sweet dishes at their homes.

The most popular dish that is specially prepared in Karnataka (South Indian homes) on the Nagara Panchami day is Patholi or Arishina Ele Kadubu. This is nothing but a type of steamed sweet dumpling that is prepared using turmeric leaves.

People also prepare Kheer and other types of sweet dishes on this day.

Nagara Panchami 2021 Date?

Nagara Panchami in the year 2021 falls on Friday, 13th August.

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