Naag Panchami observed with traditional fervor

A boy offers milk to snakes on the occasion of Naag Panchami in Jammu on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
A boy offers milk to snakes on the occasion of Naag Panchami in Jammu on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Sept 3: Auspicious Naag Panchami was observed today across Jammu region with traditional worshiping of Nagas or snake deity.
On the occasion, serpent deity made of silver, stone, wood, or mostly a painting of snakes on wall, was given a reverential bath with milk and blessings were sought for the welfare of the family. A large number of people also thronged Shiv temples for worshipping the Naag deity with milk, sweets, flowers and lamps besides reciting of the mantras.
With the assistance of snake charmers, live snakes, particularly Cobras, were also worshipped on this day especially with offerings of milk. A number of snake charmers were seen displaying live Cobras in Shiv temple premises of the city.
This special day of the serpent worship always falls on the fifth day of the moon’s waning in the Lunar Hindu month of Shravana. Hence this is called Naag Panchami. According to the Hindu beliefs, offering prayers to snake deity on this day is auspicious and will usher good tidings in one’s life.
There are many legends in Hindu mythology and folklore narrated to the importance of worship of snakes. According to Hindu Puranic literature and the Mahabharata, Kashyapa, son of the universal creator Lord Brahma, married two daughters of Prajapati, Kadru and Vinata. Kadru then gave birth to the race of Nagas, while Vinata gave birth to Aruna, who became the charioteer of the sun god, Surya, and also birth to the great eagle Garuda, who became the carrier of Vishnu.

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Indian scriptures such as Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and the Mahabharata give details of history of snakes extolling worship of snakes.
In the Mahabharata epic, the sage Astika’s quest to stop the sacrifice of serpents (Sarpa Satra) of King Janamejaya, is well known, as it was during this sacrifice that the Mahabharata as a whole was first narrated by the sage, Vaisampayana. This yagna sacrifice was performed by Janamejaya to decimate the race of Nagas through killing every snake in existence to avenge the death of his father Pariks-hita due to the deadly bite of Takshaka, the king of the snakes. The day that the sacrifice was stopped, due to the intervention of Astika, was on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day in the month of Shravana. That day has since been observed as Naga Panchami.