Nag Panchami, or Nagarapanchami, is the worship of Naga or Snakes and is an important festival in North and East India in Shravan Month. Snakes are an indispensable part of Hindu religion and the two of the most popular Gods in Hinduism – Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva – are closely associated with serpents. Lord Vishnu has the several hooded Snake Ananta as his bed and Lord Shiva wear snakes as his ornament and this close association has deep symbolic meaning. In 2010, Nag Panchami date is August 14.
Nag Panchami is observed at two different times. It is observed on the fifth day after Purnima in Ashar Month in Eastern parts of India and the festival is known as Nagpanchami Manasa Devi Ashtanag Puja. The important Nag Panchami which is observed through out India falls on the fifth day after Amavasi in Shravan month.
In many places, two idols of snakes are drawn on both sides of doors using cow dung on this day. Five-hooded idols are worshipped in many regions. The idol of five-hooded snake is made using mud, turmeric, sandal and saffron. Milk is offered to the snake idols and in some extreme form of worship people feed milk to live cobras.
The festival of Nag Panchami is yet another example of the influence of Mother Nature on Hinduism. It also shows the need for human beings to respect animals, which play an important role in the survival of human beings.