A large number of devotees on August 21, thronged the ancient Nag Vasuki temple in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva and Nag Vasuki on the occasion of the seventh ‘Shravan Somvar.’
Long queues of devotees could be seen outside the Nagvasuki Temple in Prayagraj today morning. People queued up since the early hours to seek the blessing of Lord Shiva and Nag Vasuki at the temple entrance. Visuals show the preparation of an assortment of delicacies being prepared on the occasion.
While speaking to the media, Nag Vasuki Temple Head Priest Shyam Dhar said, “Nag Panchami is very important in Sanatan Dharma. All the festivals and festivals will start from today itself.”
Nag Panchami, one of the revered religious festivals in India, is celebrated with gaiety in Prayagraj. Snakes or Nag or serpents are worshipped on the occasion of Nag Panchami festival. It is celebrated on the fifth day (hence Panchami, meaning fifth) in ‘Shukla Paksha’ (bright half, after the new moon) of the Hindu month of Shravan (July- August). The culture of serpent-worship has been fairly wide- spread in India since time immemorial and now forms an important part of popular religion.
The evidences of the cult of ‘Nag Puja’ have been spotted in Harappan civilization. Several snake-deities of the serpents are part of the pantheon of Hindu gods and some of them enjoy a high place in Puranic Hinduism. The thousand-headed hydra Ananta (symbolizing eternity) is the couch of Vishnu. Lord Shiva wears several snakes as ornaments on his person. Because of its habit of sloughing the skin, the serpent is believed to be immortal by the Hindus, and eternity is often represented as a serpent eating its tail.
On the day of Nag Panchami, Sanatan Dharma worships the snake as a deity. The temple of Nagavasuki, the king of serpents, is situated on the banks of the Ganges in Prayagraj. A large number of people come here on this day to offer prayers and pray for auspiciousness for their families, added the priest.
In Sanatan Dharma, the snake is also seen to be associated with the environment. It is believed that the cobra plays an important role in protecting the paddy crop, as it kills the rats. Things enriched by nature are offered to the serpent god on this day, he said.
Meanwhile, devotees worshipped the ‘Nag Devta’ or Nag deity at the Shesha Avatar Laxman Temple in Ayodhya.
Devotees from far and wide come here and offer water, milk, and raw gram to Lord Lakshman on this day.
The festival of Nag Panchami, which is being celebrated today, is an annual occasion where Hindus worship snakes. Its origins date back to the earliest days of the religion.
Offering milk to the snake god is among the primary rituals of this festival. There are numerous stories related to Nag Panchami.
As per Hindu mythology, as a child when Lord Krishna was playing by the Yamuna River, his ball became entangled in a tree’s branches. He was attacked by the snake Kaliya while trying to fetch the ball.
Lord Krishna fought valiantly, and the snake begged him not to kill it. The occasion is observed to commemorate Krishna’s success in sparing humanity from the threat of Kaliya, the most venomous snake.
Some of the snake gods that people in India pray to on Nag Panchami are Ananta, Shesha, Vasuki, Kambala, Padma, and Kaliya.
It is believed that anything offered to snakes on Nag Panchami would reach the serpent Gods. Hence, devotes worship live snakes on the day as representatives of serpent Gods.
The traditional offering for Nag Panchami is everything milk-based, from kheer to sweets, which are then offered to the deity.
Many observe fasts and feed the poor to mark this day. Some devotees also make snake idols at home with clay. Flowers and milk are offered to the idols and placed near snake holes or burrows. Houses are also decorated with rangoli.