Naga Panchami (Sanskrit: नाग पंचमी) is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents observed by Hindus throughout India, Nepal and other countries where Hindu adherents live.The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravana (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar. The abode of snakes is believed to be patala loka, (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth) and lowest of them is also called Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas, as part of the creation force and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Serpent deity made of silver, stone or wood or the painting of snakes on the wall are given a bath with milk and then revered.
A story of Nag Panchami
There are various stories to explain the reason people started worshiping the snake god. According to a legend, while plowing on field, a farmer had killed three baby snakes. When the mother snake found out about the death, it crept into the house and killed everybody in the house. All but one of the daughters of the farmer had gone to a neighbor’s house on that night. So, she escaped snake bite and survived. When the Nag found out the girl has survived she went to bite her too. But, the daughter started worshiping the Nag and offered her foods when she visited the house. The snake god was very happy by the devotion of the daughter. She later brought everybody back to life and the family lived happily. The story of the survival spread allover the place and they started worshiping the Nag god.
According to Hindu puranic literature, Kashyapa, son of Lord Brahma, the creator created Kadroo who belonged to the Naga race of the Pitru Loka and she gave birth to the Nagas; among the other three, the first wife gave birth to Devas, the second to Garuda and the fourth to Daityas.
According to the Mahabharata epic, King Parikshita of Kuru dynasty was killed by a snake bite by the snake king called Taksaka. The son of King Parikshita, Janamejeya, was so angered by his father’s death that he performed a snake sacrifice Yagya, known as Sarpa Satra. For the Yagya, a sacrificial fireplace was prepared to kill all the snakes in the world. The sacrifice performed was so powerful that it was caused all the snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit). The snake king Takshaka however escaped to the nether world of Indra to seek his protection. The sages at the Yagna Kunda increased the tempo of reciting the mantras to drag Takshaka to the Yagna Kunda. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indra’s cot. The force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that Indra was also dragged along with Takshaka towards the fire.
The gods were scared and they appealed to Manasadevi to resolve the crisis. Manasadevi asked her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and request Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna. Janamejaya was impressed by Astika’s knowledge of all the Sastras. When Janamejaya granted Astika a boon – Astika requested Janamejeya to stop the Sarpa Satra. As the king was bound by his promise he couldn’t refuse a boon given to the Brahmin. The yagna was then stopped and the life of Indra and Takshaka were spared. Since then the day celebrated as Naag Panchami.