Dedicated towards worshipping Nagas, or snakes, Nag Panchami is an important Hindu festival celebrated in the North and East India, in particular. Being an inseparable part of Hindu religion, snakes are associated with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. While Lord Vishnu has the several hooded Snake Avanta as his bed, Lord Shiva adorns the snake as an ornament. The festival is celebrated at two different times. In East India, Nag Panchami is known as Nagpanchami Manasa Devi Ashtanag Puja and is observed on the 5th day in Ashar month after Purnima. The second Nag Panchami celebrated on the 5th day after Amavasi in Shravan month is more significant and observed throughout India. Read further to know more about Nag Panchami Vrat and the procedure for observing it.
How To Observe Nag Panchami Vrat
Legend goes around the huge black snake, named Kalia, prevailing in Lord Krishna's village. Since Kalia was terrorizing the village, Lord Krishna conquered him on this day which is celebrated as Nag Panchami today. Also since burrows are filled with water during monsoon season, snakes move out to occupy spaces in human residents. Thus, this festival is celebrated to feed and please snake gods on the pretext of avoiding being bitten by them. In most of the communities, vrat, or fast, is observed on this occasion by both married and unmarried women and girls.
Young married women visit their premarital homes for celebrating the festival. Alternatively, unmarried women perform the Nag Panchami vrat in the act of attaining good and loyal husbands. The fast is observed from sunrise and broken only after sunset. Salt and deep fried foods are avoided during the vrat. The Punjabis celebrate Nag Panchami as Guga Navami and is observed by making a huge snake from flour. This snake is then set in the temple and worshipped on Nag Panchami. In most of the places, both sides of the doors are decorated with idols of snakes using cow dung.
In various regions, five-hooded snakes, made from mud, turmeric, sandal and saffron, are worshipped as well. These snake idols are then offered milk by the devotees. In extreme cases of worshipping, live snakes and cobras are fed with milk. This vrat is observed on the 5th day in the Shravan month of the Hindu calendar during the waxing phase of the moon (Shukla Paksha). People commonly believe that by observing this vrat, they would be blessed with a long life, fame, prosperity and intellect. By feeding and serving snakes, the devotees tend to reflect a need for respecting animals that play a vital role in humankind.