Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Indian Festival - Nag Panchami

Why is it celebrated?
1) Nag Panchami, a.k.a., Naga or Nagula Panchami, is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of snakes and serpent deities. It celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the mythical Kaliya, a monstrous black python that was killed by Krishna in the Yamuna river.
2) King Janmejay who performed sarpyadnya (the sacrificial fire of snakes) was appeased by Sage Astik. When Janmejay told Him to ask for a boon, Sage Astik asked for the cessation of sarpyadnya. The day on which Janmejay stopped sarpyadnya was Shravan Shukla Panchami.
3) The day Lord Krushna killed the serpent Kaliya in the bed of Holy river Yamuna, was Shravan Shukla Panchami
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When is it celebrated?
It is observed across India and Nepal on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravan during the monsoon season [July / August]. It is celebrated all across India at the peak of the monsoon- the time when snakes are most likely to be around- and takes the form of prayers to the snake god for protection from snakebite
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How is it celebrated?
Nine serpent deities are worshiped on the auspicious Nag Panchami day. Elaborate rituals in the form of 'puja' are held in temples and temporary altars in the honor of snake gods - Ananta, Vasuki, Padmanabha, Sesha, Kambala, Shankhapala, Dhruthrashtra, Takshaka and Kaliya - the nine prominent snake gods. In many parts of Eastern India Nag Panchami is dedicated to the serpent goddess, Manasa.
In Bengal and Bangladesh, the Manasa worship is a month-long affair spanning July and August. Devotees pay obeisance to goddess Manasa and perform various 'pujas' or rituals to appease her. Special 'murtis' or statues of the goddess are sculpted, various sacrifices made, and prayers chanted. In some places, worshippers are seen to pierce their bodies, poisonous snakes are displayed on the altar, and live shows depicting the life and legends of Manasa Devi are performed.

In some places, live snakes are worshipped; in others, an image or a dough effigy of a snake is revered. The worship generally includes bathing a snake (or its idol) with milk, to the accompaniment of the music played by a snake charmer. Needless to say this is one day when snake charmers are in great demand

A day long fast is observed in almost all regions in India. Devotees carry milk and turmeric powder to the temple as offerings for the idol. It is believed that doing so ensures freedom from danger of snakebites. If a snake drinks milk, then it is considered to bring good fortune. In some places, snakes are given bath in milk and offered rice, too.
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Why is fasting observed?
Five ages ago there was an inferior goddess named Satyeshwari. Satyeshwar was her brother. Satyeshwar died on the day before Nagpanchami. In grief of her brother's death she did not eat any food. Hence females observe fast on that day for their brothers for brother's longevity, acquiring of various weapons and for him to come out from sorrows and dangers safely is also one of the reason for observing the fast. If the sister calls out to god for her brother on the previous day of Nagpanchami, then the brother gets 75% benefit and is also protected
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