Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to do a simple Nag Panchami pooja at home

Nag Panchami is considered to be one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. 

Nag Panchami rituals and traditions
On the day of Nag Panchami, fields are not ploughed and no fried food is served. This is because, on this day, snakes should not be harmed in any way. 
- No ploughing the field with cattle to prevent the snake from getting crushed
- No cutting with farm equipment to prevent the snake's skin from getting scarred
- No frying to prevent the snake from getting charred

With regard to preventing the snake from getting burnt/charred : even to this day in some homes the tadka is not made on the day of Nag Panchami. If at all tadka is necessary, it is prepared 1 day before! This is because it is believed that due to the cold monsoon season, the snakes slither into homes to get warm near the hearth's embers and when the tadka splutters the rai & jeera tends to fly which may scorch the snake's skin. My grandmother used to follow this tradition.

The Nag Panchami day begins with a bath and wearing of traditional clothes (in Maharashtra, the women wear the nauvari saree). 

Coconut-based sweets or ladus with black sesame seeds are made as holy offerings (food offered to the Gods is known as Naivedya) to the Lord of the Serpents. A fast is observed till late evening.

Clay idol of a snake
For the Nag Panchami pooja, a clay idol of a snake is bathed in milk, a tikka of turmeric and kumkum (red vermillion powder) is applied to the forehead of the idol, flowers (generally red hibiscus flowers) are placed at the foot, and an aarti with a lit diya is done of the idol. The sweets prepared beforehand are offered to the snake idol and these, along with some of the milk used to bathe the idol, is offered as prasad to family members and visitors. In some homes, a small silver item (usually a piece of jewellery) is also offered to the snake God.

Nag Panchami pooja stotra

In Maharashtra, snake charmers with snakes in their baskets roam the villages, towns and cities on the day of Nag Panchami. Women devotees offer milk to the snake as the snake charmer plays on his flute. If the snake drinks the milk, it is considered very auspicious. Some portion of the milk is then taken back home and given as prasad to family members. In some villages, women create small idols of serpents from cowdung and place one each at either side of their front door to ward off danger.

After the Nag Panchami pooja, married young women visit their parents home to celebrate the festival. In villages, this joyous celebration includes taking part in a common childhood enjoyment – swinging on swings made from ropes and slung from the branches of banyan or other trees.