Nag Panchami, the festival of snakes, isn’t for the faint of heart! This festival is all about the worship of snakes. Hindus are observing the Nag Panchami festival today as per the time-honored tradition. Nag Panchami is a festival dedicated to Nag or the serpent god and is observed on the fifth day of the bright half of the Nepali month of Shrawan as per the lunar calendar.
On this day, the head of the family or a priest pastes a picture of the Nag or the snake god above the main door of the house and offers worship to the serpent deity. The Nag is taken as the god of water and rain, and as per the religious belief it is said that the house where the Nag deity resides is bestowed with wealth and prosperity.
It is believed that the worship of the snake goes back to the time before the ancient Vedic era. There is also the belief that pasting the picture of the Nag deity on the doorway of houses provides protection from thunder bolt, lightning and fire as well as attacks by snakes and scorpions.
Various ancient Hindu scriptures like the Garuda Purana, Skanda Purana, Narad Purana, Bhabishya Purana and Baraha Purana mention about the worship of the Nag. Besides the Hindus, followers of Budhhism and Jainism also worship the Nag. The eight different Nags mentioned in the scriptures are the Ananta, Basuki, Padma, Mahapadma, Takshaka, Kuleer, Karkata and Sankha.
People make offerings of the dubo grass, milk and the paste of rice grains, red vermillion powder and yoghurt known as akshata to the Nag deity. They also light incense sticks. Devotees offer special pujas at the shrines dedicated to the Nag deity by offering rice pudding, special bread cooked in ghee etc.
On the occasion of Nag Panchami festival, special religious fairs also take place at local Nagpokhari at Naxal and at Taudaha, believed to be the abode of the Karkotak Nag, at Taudaha in Kathmandu and at the Nagdaha at Dhapakhel in Lalitpur, at Siddhapopkhari in Bhaktapur and at Panauti and many other places in the country.