Festivals & Fasts

Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami

Shukla Panchami Tithi in the Month of Shravana  5th lunar day in the bright half of the fortnight

Worship of the Great Nagas, The Serpents

Nag means serpents and Panchami refers to the 5th lunar day. This festival takes place annually on the 5th waxing lunar day of the month of Shravana. Monthly the 5th tithi belongs to the Nagas. According to the mythology, Sage Kashyapa has many wives who were responsible for the birth of different types of life on earth. Aditi gave birth to the Adityas ( the 12 Sun gods) and godly lineage whereas his other wife Kadru gave birth to 1000 Nagas. Therefore the Nagas are connected to the gods being born to the same father and are considered divine beings. Both the negative and positive energies of this earth are part of the same lineage- different sides of the same coin.

Nagas or snakes represent secret wisdom, knowledge, the ability to control mortality, renewal as well as the negative qualities of sins. bitterness, possessiveness and greed. By doing this worship we gain the strength of the Nagas and control their more negative traits. Nagas are also known as Sarpas. According to our birth chart, we can get cursed by the Nagas due to our karmas and past life actions and this reflects as the Kal Sarpa Dosha or Sarpa dosha in our charts. Worshipping of the Sarpa and gaining their blessings rather than their anger is essential for those who want to pacify the negative aspects of their birth chart.

In my book, Personal Panchanga, I have written...

Panchami, the fifth step away from the Sun and the fifth towards the Sun belongs to the Nagas. Nagas are serpents. Originally the nagas were poisonous, violent and deadly. They were killing the humans with their venom. Humans begged Brahma to save them from these terrible serpents. He promised them protection. Brahma cursed the serpents that they will face a serious decline. The serpents fell to their feet and begged? Oh, Brahma, you created us wicked, how can you complain, we are only following the path we were created for, please reduce our venom and give us a separate abode from the humans. Brahma relented and gave them the underworld (Patala, Vitala and Sutala) and a boon that if they bite those who trouble them then they would not be punished. But the humans can kill those who are insolent and fierce. Nagas came to symbolise all that is secret and hidden, the possessors of great occult powers. They carry the poison in a pouch and their body is not filled with poison. They only use this poison when forced to do so. The poison can be used for healing or for killing. The nagas have the capacity for both good and bad. If we take the story of the nagas as a parable that poison exists within all of us, the moment we learn to recognise these poisons, we are able to live with them. Then it should only emerge under dire circumstances. Panchami have a great ability to control and overcome their sins. Panchami represents the primary struggle of man between good and evil nature.

Lord Brahma forgave the Sarpas on Nag Panchami day and therefore this is the special day to celebrate in their honour.

In Indian Tradition, we have always honoured all aspects of life and nature. Nagas or serpents have been honoured as part of this tradition and their special annual day is on Nag Panchami day. All major gods of India have a connection to the Nagas. Vishnu rests on Sheshnaga, Shiva wears Naga Vasuki in his neck, Ganesha wears a serpent belt, Subramaniya ( Lord Murugha and Kartikeya) has special ability to deal with the Sarpas - his vehicle, the peacock can kill the snakes. Lord Krishna could fight the snake Kalinga as he had worshipped Lord Subramania.


Goddess Manasa Devi is the Queen of the Nagas

Goddess Manasa Devi is the daughter of Kashyapa and Kadru and the sister to the great snake Vasuki. Originally a tribal goddess, but after she helped Shiva when he drank the poison during the churning of the ocean of milk and cured him of it, she is widely worshipped by all.


Kal Sarpa and Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami is an important celebration for all especially for those who have:

  • Kal Sarpa yoga
  • Rahu Ketu issues in their chart
  • Inability to have children
  • Sarpa Dosha due to past life problems

How to celebrate Nag Panchami
FAST

You should fast the whole day, not eating anything fried on this day even after you break the fast.

End the fast after sunset. Keep your meal pure vegetarian. Eating Kheer (milk pudding) and milk is good on this day.


CHANT

Moksha Mantra - Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra for Lord Shiva 108 times

Om Tryambhakam yajamahe sugnadhim pushtivardhanan
Urvarukamiva bandhanan mrityor moksheya mamratat Om

We worship the three-eyed one (Shiva) who is fragrant and nourishes all beings. Just like a cucumber falls off its creeper and is detached from its bondage, Shiva will help us liberate the soul from death and find moksha (self-realisation) and Amrita (Nectar of immortality).


PRAY

Lords Shiva, Krishna or Subramaniya. If possible go to a temple and give an idol made in silver of the nagas and worship with raw milk, turmeric, vermillion ( Kumkum) and flowers on the Shiva Lingham (Rudra abhishekham). You can pray to Lord Krishna and Subramaniya to protect you from the negative qualities of the nagas and get their blessings.

As Rahu Ketu and Sarpa deal with psychological aspects of life, this prayer is to get mental peace.

People also make the shape of the nagas in dough or a cut-out and worship this if they are unable to get a small figure of Nag made for this day. This festival is not celebrated with pomp and ceremony but with devotion and belief.


DONATE

Feed the poor on this day. Donate money to charity. Give Dakshina and gifts to the priests.


— Komilla Sutton

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