(Naga Chauthi)-the festival of snakes is one of the important festivals of Hindus and celebrated all over India to pay respect to snakes. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit fortnight in the month of Shravana. For 2008, it falls on 6th August, Wednesday.Naga Panchami Celebrations
On this day Naga Devata (Cobra) is worshipped. People fast on this day and go to snake pits, Snake temples and Lord Shiva’s temples and worship the snakes. They offer milk, ladoos made with sesame seeds and silver jewelry to the snakes. In houses, women draw pictures of snakes on the walls of their houses using milk, cow dung and black powder. On this day snake charmers go from house to house carrying live cobras in baskets asking alms. Even in many places like Baltis Shirale, a village located about 400 Kilometres from Mumbai, live cobras and snakes are worshipped on Nag-Panchami day.
In Orissa, West Bengal and Assam, people worship the queen of serpents-the snake deity- ‘Manasa’ on this day with all religious adorations. They seek her blessings for the welfare of their families and children.
In Punjab, the festival is celebrated in the month of September-October and is called AS ‘Guga Naumi.’ A snake made of dough is taken in grand processions around the village in a basket. An offering of butter and flour is made from each house as the procession the goes around from house to house.
In Maharashtra, women on this day wear their ‘nav-vari’-nine yards saree, wear old ornaments and get ready for the worship. They sprinkle turmeric powder, vermillion powder and flowers on the live snakes, offer sweetened milk to the snakes as the snake charmers come to their doors.
In Kerala, people worship metal and stone icons Ananta or Sesha-the Cosmic Serpent in snake temples. Here people keep a cobra made of copper or silver in their worship rooms and offer milk and sweets on the altars of cobra on this day.
Other popular areas of worship during the Nag Panchami include:
- Adiesha Temple in Andhra Pradesh
- Nagaraja Temple in Kerala
- Nagathamman Temple in Chennai
- Hardevja Temple in Jaipur.
In Bengal and parts of Assam and Orissa the blessings of Mansa, the queen of serpents are sought by offering her all the religious adoration. Protection from the harmful influence of snakes is sought through the worship of Mansa who rules supreme over the entire clan of serpents. On this occasion snake-charmers are also requisitioned to invoke the Snake Queen by playing lilting and melodious tunes on their flutes.
In Punjab Nag-Panchami is known by the name of "Guga-Navami". A huge snake is shaped from dough, which is kneaded from the contribution of flour and butter from every household. The dough-snake is then placed on a winnowing basket and taken round the village in a colourful procession in which women and children sing and dance and onlookers shower flowers. When the procession reaches the main square of the village all the religious rites are performed to invoke the blessings of the snake god and then the dough snake is ceremoniously buried.