September 16, 2017: Indira Ekadasi
September 17, 2017: Vyatipata Mahalayam, Kanya Sankranthi, Pradosha Vratam
September 18, 2017: Kaliyugadi, Gajachhaya Parvam, Vishasastrahata Mahalayam, Maasa Sivarati
Naga Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrated by Hindus across the world and more prominently in India. In India, it is more widely celebrated with much glory and with utmost sincerity in the states of West Bengal and Orissa. The festival is observed on the Panchami Day that comes in the Hindu month of Sravanam.
Naga Devata is the diety of the day. Naga Devatas are considered divine according to Hindu mythology. People go to temples and snake pits and they worship Naga Devatas. The festival falls during the rainy months and is believed to counter the increased the possibility of a snake bite during this time. People visit temples specially dedicated to snakes and worship them. Shiva temples are also favored places for veneration as snakes are considered to dear to Him. In South India, people craft images of snakes using cow during on either side of the entrance to the house to welcome the snake god. Some go to worship the snake, which is believed to be hiding in the holes of anthills. A five hood snake is made by mixing gandhi, turmeric powder, chandan and saffron and placed on a metal plate and worshipped. This practice of worshiping the snake on this day is related to a story. They offer milk and silver jewelery to the Naga Devatas to protect them from all evils. Devotees undergo fast on this day.
The festival of Naga Panchami is celebrated by Hindus to pay respect to Nagas. The five Nagas worshiped on Naga Panchami are Ananta, Vasuki, Taxak, Karkotaka and Pingala. According to a puranic myth Lord Brahma's son Kasyapa had four wives. Kashyapa's first wife gave birth to Devas, second to Garudas, third to Nagas and fourth do Daitys. The third wife of Kasyapa was called Kadroo, who gave birth to Nagas. So, Nagas are also known as Kadrooja. There were the rulers of Patal-Loka. There is a Sanskrit slokas to remember the important nine Nagas as below:
Anantam Vasukim Shesham Padmanabham Cha Kambalam
Sankalpam Dhartarashtram Taxakam Kalivam tatha
Etani navanamani cha mahatmanam
Once, a farmer was ploughing his field. At the edge of the field there was an anthirll which he inadvertently destroyed with the plough, and thus the young serpents that were hiding in it were killed. The mother snake had casually gone out. When she came back, she could not find her young ones. At last she found them cut into pieces. She was furious and understood that the farmers had killed them. She was bent on taking revenge. At night when the farmer was sleeping with his wife and children, the snake came full of anger. She began to bite the feet of the farmer, and then one by one the feet of his wife and children. All began to cry. But the eldest daughter happened to be out of the house at that night. Then the snake remembered that after wedding, the girl had gone to the house of her father in law. She resolved that she will not spare her either. The snake ran towards the neighboring village and stopped before the door of a house and a saw a young girl inside. She recognized her as the farmer's eldest daughter. The snake went in determined to bite her. But then she saw the young girl with joint hands worshiping the snake she had made out of gandh and the nine nagulu. She had offered them nagane, lahya, and durva and she was praying with utmost devotion. She prayed Her to accept her worship and look after her people at home and do not bite anyone. Forgive any fault may be committed inadvertently. With this the snake opened her eyes and got frightened at the sight of the snake. But the snake said 'Do not afraid. I shall not bite you. Tell me who you are and where your house is'. Then the daughter and felt very sorry for having killed her people. The snake told the girl that what had happened happened but told her not to cry. She gave her some nector and told her to sprinkle it on her dead people and with this they all came back to life.
Legends say that the festival is to celebrate the day Lord Krishna defeated the serpent Kalia.
As most rivers in India are in spate during the month of Shravan, poisonous snakes come out of their subterranean abodes and creep about in plenty all over the place. Many also float on flooded rivers running through the countryside. Mortality from snakebites must have been considered to prompt people to worship the nagas to seek protection from them. Because of the fear, nagas were elevated to a divine status by the Hindus. The serpents are believed to have the capability to change their shape at will. When in human form, they are depicted as beautiful women and handsome men.
Naga Panchami is observed in different ways in different parts of the country. It is one of the most ancient fasts and finds mention in the Puranas. It is believed to be one of the most auspicious days of the entire year. According to Bhaivishya Purana, when men bathe the snakes called Vasuki, Takshaka, Kaliya, Manibhadra, Airavata, Dhritarashtra, Karkotaka and Dhananjaya with milk on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Shravan, they ensure freedom from danger for their families. In some parts of South India, figures of snakes are drawn with red sandal wood paste on wooden boards, or clay images of snakes colored yellow or black are purchased. These are then worshipped and offered milk. Snake charmers wander about with all sorts of snakes, to which people offer milk. The snake charmers are paid some money for allowing this. In the Ashvalayana Grihyasurtra, the Paraskara Grihyasurtra and other Grihyasutras, a rite called Sarpabali or offerings to serpents was performed on the full moon night. However, the reason that it was moved from the full moon night to that of the fifth day of the bright fortnight is not apparent. It may be due to the slight change in the time of the onset of the rains.
Naga Panchami falls on the following days in the respective years: