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Faith and folklore

To the millions of households across the nation who celebrate the age old festival of Nag Panchami is not only about bathing a serpent with milk...

Written by Rohan Swamy |
July 26, 2009 2:42:07 am

To the millions of households across the nation who celebrate the age old festival of Nag Panchami is not only about bathing a serpent with milk,it also symbolises faith and deep rooted devotion towards the venerated snake god.

“A very popular belief that is practised is that fields are not ploughed during the celebrations. A popular story backs the belief — Long ago a farmer accidentally killed some young serpents in the process of tilling land. The mother of these serpents took revenge by biting and killing the farmer and his family,except one daughter,who worshipped snakes. Due to her devotion her family was restored,” says Sanskrit scholar from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI),Vasant Gadgil.

Vasundhara Shinde,a homemaker who celebrates this festival says,”There is a special food menu for the day. We also offer milk,ghee,water and rice to the snake god. In villages women draw figures of snakes on the walls of their houses.”

Gadgil further says that the festival is celebrated during the month of Shravana in South Maharashtra,West Bengal,Punjab,Kerela,Rajasthan,Assam and Orissa and has various regional differences in the manner of celebration. It is also a way to thank all the animals who help the farmers in agriculture.

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Soma Nair,another homemaker,says,”We offer milk and sweets to the silver and copper cobra idols installed in our home and pray for welfare of all. In Kerela live cobras are also worshipped.”

Did you know
Battis Shirala village in south Maharashtra,almost all the residents know the art of controlling snakes. On Naag Panchami,they go to houses in the other villages with dormant cobras and ask for alms and clothes. There,this festival also signifies the beginning of the preparations for the arrival of Lord Ganesh,a month later.

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