AYODHYA/ ALLAHABAD - Thousands of Hindu devotees observed the festival of Nag Panchami in different parts of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. The festival involves the worship of snakes.
People from all walks of life participated in the festival with religious fervour in Ayodhya and Allahabad.
This annual festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight during Shravan month (July-August) of Hindu calendar.
In ancient times, snakes were worshipped and given milk by devotees who believe the Naag (cobra) is related to Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction.
At the ancient Sheshaavtar Lachman Temple in Ayodhya, devotees converged and offered prayers and flower petals. They also took a holy dip in Saryu River to absolve themselves of sins.
“Today is “Nag Panchami”. We have come to take a dip in the Saryu River and have come to pay obeisance at (Sheshaavtar) Lachman Temple. I am offering milk, flowers and gram,” said Durgeshwary Pandey, a devotee.
In Allahabad, devotees thronged the Nag Vasuki Temple to pray.
Temple priests said that devotees can hope for good fortune when they pray on the occasion of Nag Panchami.
“It (praying during “Nag Panchmi”) helps keep good health. All obstacles in one’s career are removed and goals are achieved,” said Radha Kant Shastri, a priest at the Nag Vasuki Temple.
The general belief is that serpents come out of their holes on the day of the festival because generally they are flooded with rainwater. They seek shelter in gardens and sometimes in houses.
Legend has it that in ancient India, there lived a clan by the name of “Nagas” whose culture was highly developed. The Indus Valley civilisation of 3000 B.C. gives ample proof of the popularity of snake-worship amongst the Nagas, whose culture was fairly wide-spread in India even before the Aryans came.
After the Naga culture got incorporated into Hinduism, Indo-Aryans themselves accepted many of the snake deities of the Nagas in their pantheon and some of them even enjoyed a pride of place in Puranic Hinduism.
The prominent cobras’ mentioned in the Puranas are Anant, Vasuki, Shesh, Padma, Kanwal, Karkotak, Kalia, Aswatar, Takshak, Sankhpal, Dhritarashtra and Pingal.
In Jainism and Buddhism, the snake is regarded as having divine qualities. It is believed that a cobra saved the life of Lord Buddha and another protected the Jain Tirthankara Parshwanath. By Amit Kanojia/ Virender Pathak (ANI)