Nag Panchami, an important Hindu festival dedicated to Naga or Snake, is held on the fifth day after Amavasya in the Shravan month (mid July – mid August). Nag Panchami 2012 date is July 23. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna overpowered the deadly snake Kalia and performed the famous Kaliamardhanam on a Naga Panchami day. The monsoon season is at its zenith during the Shravan month and the burrows of the snakes will be filled with water and the snakes move to areas occupied by humans. The pujas conducted are to avoid snake bites and to keep the nagas happy.
Maharashtra is famous for Nag Panchami as people here feed snakes with milk. In most places snake charmers arrive with snakes on the day. Certain villages in Maharashtra are known to feed milk to poisonous snake. The amazing fact is that the poisonous snakes never bite. Unmarried women believe that praying to the Nag will help them in getting good husbands.
On the Nag Panchami day, people worship the snake idols which are found in almost every village and some offer prayer near anthills. Prayers are also offered at Lord Shiva temples as snakes are the ornaments of Shiva.
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. Some communities fast during the daytime and eat food only after sunset.
Eastern India, Mansa, the queen of serpents, is worshipped. Her blessings are sought for a better future. Nag Panchami is Guga Navami in Punjab and a huge snake is made from flour and is worshipped on this day.
Nag Panchami is a form of nature worship extolling the importance of the coexistence of animals and human beings.
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