Nag Panchami is one of the most significant festivals which are celebrated all over India and in some parts of the country of Nepal as well. Due to ancient beliefs and stories going on, there is a huge significance of this festival in the life of people. Of course, the story or the legend associated with the festival of Nag Panchami changes with every community and few hundred kilometres of the change in the location where it is celebrated in the country. People have attached their beliefs and their religious figures with the legend of Nag Panchami to suit their needs in terms of religion and faith. The thing is that people want their God and religious figures to be associated with the festivals they celebrate and hence the legend and stories of different religious figures spread in the particular community in one way or the other and then the people follow it religiously and have complete trust in it.
Nag Panchami generally falls in the month of July or August every year according to the calendar. This is the day when the snake is worshipped in different forms and ways by the people. In general, people express their gratitude towards snakes by offering milk and other kinds of food to snakes whether in real life or to the Images or statues of snakes. People make these offering to snakes to ask something in return like young girls do this to get good husband, married women prays snakes to safeguard their family against any kind of evil and males generally pray snakes on this day to get good profits in their business and have a good life in future.
People also visit the temples of Lord Shiva, the God of snakes to ask for forgiveness for their wrong doings in their life and seek a better future till they live as mortals. Flowers, scents, incense sticks milk and sweets are offered to Lord Shiva on this day to make him happy and to bring happiness in one’s life as well. There are many different kinds of stories and legends that are associated with the festival of Nag Panchami all over India. The most significant and widely spread story behind the occurrence of this festival is of Lord Krishna’s victory over dangerous snake Nag Kaliya of the Yamuna River.
The story goes like this, that in ancient India in the time of Lord Krishna’s incarnation on Earth there was a day when Krishna was a young boy and was playing with his friends near Yamuna River. They were playing with a ball with each other. It was believed that Nag Kaliya was residing in the base of river Yamuna those days and the water of the river became poisonous and many animals died because of drinking that poisonous water. Hence, Lord Krishna planned this drama to end the life of Nag Kaliya and throw him out of the Yamuna River. So, while paying, the ball fell into the river Yamuna and the boys got scared because the water of the river was poisonous and no one could get the ball from the river by swimming in it. Lord Krishna said that he will get the ball from the river and jumped into the river to get it. As he went down the river, he saw Nag Kaliya in the base of the river residing there with his family and his breath was making the water poisonous. He kicked the snake and asked him to leave the river immediately but the snake refused. Then Krishna had a fight with Kaliya and he won. Then Kaliya came to know that Krishna was no ordinary boy and the incarnation of the Lord Vishnu himself. So, he begged for his life and asked politely to go to another quite place and to never trouble a living soul from thereon. Then Krishna emerged from the river dancing on the head of Nag Kaliya. From this day onwards the day of victory of Lord Krishna over Nag Kaliya was celebrated as Nag Panchami in many parts of India.
So, this was the story behind the festival of Nag Panchami that is celebrated in the country of India each year with all respect and devotion of people towards lord Krishna and snakes. However, there are many different versions of the story that changes from community to community and also on the basis of place of residence of people in different parts of the country. More or less, the important thing is that people like to celebrate this festival like many others by praying snakes on this auspicious day. People recite the following mantra on this day to please snake Gods and bring happiness in their life:
Naga preeta bhavanti
shantimapnoti via viboh
Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate
By reciting this mantra, people seek the blessings from God of snakes so that they all can live peacefully and happily in their life. There is also a great significance of giving away food, clothes and money to Brahmins on this day of Nag Panchami to seek their blessings. The custom of Donation or “Dana” is associated with many other festivals of Hindu religion as well. The aim of all this worship, offerings and celebration is only to bring peace and happiness in our life by taking the blessings of our respective lords and God.