Nag Panchami is a holiday in which Hindus all over India and Nepal traditionally worship snakes. This day falls on the fifth day of Shravan on the Hindu calendar – which falls between July and August on the Gregorian calendar. The purpose of this holiday has been traditionally an attempt to pacify these snakes when they come out of their holes, as these snakes have historically proven dangerous to humans. Which is why when the snakes emerge, they are often fed.
History of Nag Panchami
There are many reasons why snakes have come to be worshiped on this day but the main reason is because the Hindu god Krishna is believed to have saved the lives of people who were harassed by the serpent deity – or Naga – Kaliya. It is believed that when Krishna was a small child he was playing with his ball outside. As he was tossing it around, he accidentally threw it too hard and it landed in some tree branches that overhung the side of a river. Krishna climbed the tree but accidentally fell into the river where he was immediately attacked by Kaliya. Try as he might, Kaliya couldn’t kill Krishna and he soon realized that he was a god. Kaliya then begged him to spare his life and told him that if he did, then he would not bother human beings anymore. And that is why Nag Panchmi is now celebrated in India, Nepal and other areas where Hindus live, work and worship.
Nag Panchami Celebrations & Customs
This holiday is observed in several different ways all across India and Nepal. Many people spend the day fasting but the priesthood caste – known as Brahmins are often fed on this day. On this day, it is also believed that digging in the earth is forbidden and taboo and that if it is done, then it could kill the snakes which reside there and bring forth the wrath of the gods. In some areas, cow’s milk is offered to snakes, along with Kheer – a form of rice pudding – and crystallized sugar. People also offer cow’s milk, Kheer, and durva to pictures of Naga or they make an idol of Naga out of mud and worship it. In some areas, people worship the cobras and in other areas, they merely pacify the cobras. It is also customary for women to offer prayers to the snakes to protect their brothers from future snake bites.