What to do on Nag Panchami Day?

Nag Panchami, also known as Mansa Devi Puja, observed on the fifth day after Amavasi in Shravan month is dedicated to the Nagas, the snake deities. Nagas are indispensable part in Hinduism and is closely associated with all the major deities in Hindu religion. Quite often they serve as a symbol. There is also a widespread belief among Hindus that the whole earth was the home of the Snakes and when human beings were created Lord asked them to move underground and humans promised to feed and worship them on Nagpanchami day. Apart from this there are thousands of stories associated with Snakes in Hindu religion.


On Nag Panchami prayers are offered at Naga temples, sacred places with idols of Nagas and at anthills. Almost all villages in India have a sacred place for snakes with a small grove and numerous idols of the Nagas. Prayers are also offered at the shrines of Shiva. In West Bengal and Orissa, Mansa, the queen of serpents, is worshipped on this day.

In some places, people fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a partial fast and they eat food without salt. Deep-fried things are avoided on the day. Some people only consume food after sunset. In some regions, peoplemake it a point to have an oil bath on the day. Unmarried women believe that praying to the Nagas will help them in getting good husbands.

In rural India and in many houses in towns, two images of snakes are drawn on doors using cow dung or rice or turmeric paste. In some places people draw a five-headed snake. Snake kolams are drawn on this day in South India. This is to welcome the Nag Raja.

In some regions, an idol of five-hooded snake is made using mud, turmeric, sandal and saffron.
Special pujas are performed at the anthill, which is found extensively in rural India. Milk, betel leaf, betel nut, tender coconuts, turmeric powder, puffed paddy, jaggery, flower bunches and tender leaves of palm and areca trees are offered.

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.

Forcibly feeding snakes should not be encouraged. Battis Shirala, in Maharashtra, is notorious for this. Battis Shirala Nag Panchami procession has invited the wrath of general public for the crude handling of snakes.