Nag Panchami In Nepal- Festival Dates and its Celebration

Nag Panchami

Nepal is indeed a nation filled with wonders. From natural beauty to religious aspects, Nepal presents you with unique experiences. As you step onto this land, you will find the Nepali people’s deep-rooted connection with their culture and tradition.

In this land that is abundantly rich in culture, values, and spirituality, Nepal has some of the most unique festival celebrations, including Nag Panchami. It may sound unusual, but this celebration is an honor to the Hindu serpent deities known as the Nagas.

This annual ritual provides a fascinating glimpse into Nepal’s authentic belief, where Hindu mythology comes alive to blend in with nature. While most parts of the world shun snakes and label them as vicious creatures, Hindus from India and Nepal shine a different light on them.

Nag Panchami, this celebration worships the snake world for the welfare and prosperity of the family.

History of Nag Panchami And Its’ Origin

Like every other natural being and nature, the Hindu religion has always deeply entwined its rich culture with nature. Whether it be while worshiping cows by giving them the title of our “Mother” or honoring the Banyan tree as a symbolic gesture of life and fertility, the religion has loads of intertwined connections to offer.

Among such connections, the Nag Panchami portrays a similar connection to the snakes, associated with protection, prosperity, and fertility. It is believed that this tradition came to life before the ancient Vedic era.

Additionally, the manuscripts portray the proof of this celebration during the Mahabharat after a tragic event. Returning to the Mahabharata days, King Parikshita of the Kuru dynasty had lost his life due to a snake bite from the Snake King named Takshaka.

This incident angered the son of King Parikshita, Janamejaya, who performed a snake sacrifice (Sarpa Satra) to avenge his father’s death. The program was completed with the help of some of the most talented Brahmin sages, who started the sacrificial fire to kill every snake in the world.

Eventually, the ritual got so powerful that it dragged every snake to the fire pit, where they burned to death. However, Takshaka (the snake king) fled to the land of Indra, seeking protection, where he coiled himself around Lord Indra’s cot. Seeing this, Janamejaya and the other priests increased the power of their mantras, making the sacrificial flame more powerful, dragging both Takshaka and Indra towards it.

Soon, the news spread and scared the gods, who then visited the female Goddess of snakes, Manasadevi. They requested her to help them. Later, the Goddess sent her son, Astika, to the sacrificial site to convince Janamejaya to stop the ritual.

After a few discussions, Astika impressed Janamejaya with his knowledge of the scriptures and even granted him a boon. Hence, the ritual was stopped, and Lord Indra saved every snake worldwide.

According to the Hindu calendar, this incident occurred during the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravana during the monsoon season. From that day onward, every year, even Lord Indra worships Goddess Maanasadevi, and that particular date was known as the Naga Day, which later arose as the Nag Panchami.

Other Folklore And Tales

Indeed, the Mahabharata tale laid the foundation for the Nag Panchami celebration. However, many other stories and depictions of such events are in Hindu mythology.

Another legend linked to this celebration is about a farmer. The farmer said he lived daily with his wife, two sons, and a daughter. One day, one of his sons killed three snakes while digging the ground. This incident was seen by the mother of those snakes, who swore to take revenge on the boy.

In anger, the mother snake bit all of the family members later that night, who all died of poisoning soon after. Only the daughter of the family remained, and as she found out the truth behind her family’s death, she visited the mother snake and asked for forgiveness.

With great grief, she offered milk to the mother snake and wept, asking to forgive her family. She pleaded with the snake to bring her family back to life, and seeing her, the mother snake accepted the apology and brought her parents to life. From that day onward, she celebrated the occasion and made offerings to the snakes.

One such tale is mentioned during the Nag Panchami celebration. It is about a girl who had sent her brother to bring her Ketki flowers. She was fasting for the day and wanted to offer that flower to the Snake Lord.

However, while searching for the flower, her brother got bitten by a snake and died. After learning about the incident, she prayed to the Snake Lord, asking him to return her brother. Seeing her devotion and determination, the Snake Lord was appeased and brought her brother to life.


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    Connections With Hindu Mythology

    The reasoning of the Nag Panchami goes way beyond mere tales. The Nagas are prominent in Hindu mythology and have often been described with their connections to several deities.

    These mythological connections depict Nag Panchami as more than just a celebration. It has held people’s beliefs and culture for centuries.

    Among many deities in Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, and Goddess Manasa have a special connection with the snakes.

    The Lord Shiva has coiled a snake around his neck as an ornament that often represents fearlessness and power. Likewise, the Lord Vishnu rests upon a bed of serpents, which is seen as a symbol of redeeming the world from the ocean of sin.

    Moving on, Lord Krishna is seen with snakes as well. Like the time when he overpowered Kaliya (a hundred-headed snake), it depicts a symbol of power and wisdom. Often, it is linked to mastering the desires.

    Lastly, you will also see Goddess Manasa sitting or standing on a snake. She is often considered the Goddess of the Snakes, protecting devotees from snake bites and providing fertility.

    Some other significance of snakes in Hindu mythology are mentioned below.

    ● The brother of Lord Ram, Lord Lakshman, is said to be the avatar of the Snake Lord, Shesh, while Lord Ram himself is the avatar of Lord Vishnu.
    ● As per the Hindu scriptures, the Snake Lord, Shesh, provides the cosmic balance by holding the universe in his forehead.
    ● It is also said that the Snake Lord, Shesh, also incarnated as the older brother of Lord Krishna, who was Balram.
    ● In the scriptures, Lord Krishna states, “The supreme against the serpents is Ananta, and that is me.”

    Samundra Manthan

    In Hindu manuscripts, the Samundra Manthan (also known as the churning of the ocean) is a crucial event. It explains the origin of the elixir of eternal life, amrita, and showcases the central role of the Snake Lord Vasuki.

    This major event took place with the incident of Lord Indra. Once, Lord Indra was offered a unique garland by the sage Durvasa, which he kept in the trunk of the elephant he rode as a testament to his humility.

    Over time, the flowers attracted many bees due to their strong scent, so the elephant threw the garland to the ground. Seeing this, Durvasa enraged and cursed Lord Indra and all devas (Gods) to be ripped off their strengths.

    Following it, the devas lost the battles with the Asuras (demons), and Bali (leader of the demons) gained power over the three worlds. Seeing this twist of events, the gods sought advice from Lord Vishnu, who asked the Devas to approach the asuras diplomatically.

    Later, the devas and Asuras allied to churn the ocean together for the elixir of eternal life and share it among themselves. Even the Snake Lord Vasuki joined them, being the churning rope in return for getting a share of the nectar of immortality.

    However, Lord Vishnu had a different plan with the devas: to arrange the nectar within them as they uprooted Mount Mandara and started churning the ocean, creating a lethal poison called halacha. This scared the Devas and Asuras, as it could destroy all creation.

    During the churning process, the devas were on the tailside while the asuras were churning through the head of Vasuki. The asuras got poisoned while churning due to the fumes from Vasuki. When the poison was created in an extensive amount, Lord Shiva drank the poison.

    Later, this cosmic event also highlights the importance of snakes.

    When Is Nag Panchami Celebrated?

    Nag Panchami is always celebrated on Shukla Paksha Panchami during Shravan month. The name of this occasion only evolved as with its date. During the initial phases, the Nag Panchami was only celebrated in the rural areas of Nepal. Over the years, it has been widely praised in almost every Nepali household.

    Like many other Hindu celebrations, Nag Panchami is deeply symbolized by the moon’s phases, thus portraying the connections between nature and the cosmos.

    As per the lunar phases, each month is divided into two halves: the bright half (Sukla Pakcha Panchami) and the dark half (Krishna Paksha). Here, Panchami is the fifth day of the bright half during the month of Shravan.

    It is also the perfect time to celebrate Nag Panchami, as this timing is believed to be filled with the moon’s positive energies. If you look at the Gregorian Calendar, this event lies during July or August.

    Nag Panchami Puja Date 2024

    ● Date and Day: 9th August 2024 (Friday)
    ● Puja Mahurat: 5:31 am to 8:10 am (2 hours 39 minutes)
    ● Start of Panchami Tithi: 9th August 2024 (at 12:51 am)
    ● End of Panchami Tithi: 10th August 2024 (at 3:29 am)
    How And Where is Nag Panchami Celebrated?
    As you may know, Nag Panchami is a celebration where people worship snakes for protection, prosperity, and fertility. Passing down from generation to generation, this interesting ritual respects the snakes so that they do not strike their close and loved ones.

    During the celebration, the Hindu devotees gather together to worship the idols and images of the snake. Generally, the offerings are bowls of sweetened milk, rice pudding, yogurt, sandalwood, and many others.

    Furthermore, people also serve meals to the Brahmins while they fast. In some areas, people worship the real snakes and even offer milk and pudding near termite holes or other places where the snakes live.

    Alongside the offerings, some devotees also create a rangoli of snakes on the floor with the help of sandalwood and turmeric as the paint and wood or clay as a brush. As the occasion starts, they make offerings, light incense, and recite the mantras.

    Apart from the offerings in the group, the devotees also have rituals at their homes. On Nag Panchami, people put a picture of the Naga (snakes) above their doorway and perform puja with the mantras. It is believed that doing so will ward off poisonous snakes.

    Most importantly, a white lotus flower is not to be forgotten. During puja, women and sisters pray for their families and brothers’ well-being. This particular occasion is celebrated throughout Nepal and India.

    You can expect to experience this festival in Nepal’s Nagpokhari, Taudaha, and Nagdaha valleys.


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      Nag Panchami Puja Vidhi

      According to the legend, the sage Kashyapa is believed to be one of the main contributors to starting the Nag Panchami ritual. He started the puja to maintain harmony between the humans and snakes. Today, he is also known as the father of the serpents.

      ● The devotees wake up before the first light of the day as it is believed to cleanse them physically and spiritually. They then shower to purify their body and wear clean clothes.
      ● Following it, they start preparing foods and offerings for the day. Foods for the occasion include rice pudding, sweetened milk, and sweets. Likewise, the offerings include turmeric, sandalwood, incense, broken rice, flowers, water, cow dung, white lotus flower, clay, silver or gold, and butter. Here, the milk symbolizes purity and nourishment, which pleases the Snake Lords and will protect their devotees.
      ● While most people eat these foods, those who fast only consume food in the evening.
      ● After that, the devotees cleanse their house with mantra chants. Some of them also draw five-faced snakes at the entrance of their home with sandalwood or turmeric and clay, silver or gold. Apart from that, some put up pictures as well. These pictures and drawings of the snake symbolize greetings and respect to the Snake Lord. In addition, some also draw a rangoli and put a white lotus flower at the entrance.
      ● Soon after, they offer unheated milk and end this puja with sweets.
      ● Here, some also create intricate snake sculptures out of cow dung a day before the celebration.
      ● Likewise, they later visit sacred snake shrines and pilgrimage sites. Some hot places you can visit to experience this event are Nagdaha, Taudaha, or Nag Pokhari. During your visit, you should expect a massive crowd on this day.

      As the devotees pray to Nag Dev, a silent vow is also made across their hearts never to harm snakes. It reflects a deep respect for the occasion. Street Festivals During Nag Panchami.
      During Nag Panchami, the streets of Nepal come to life with devotees in colorful clothes, melodic folk songs, rhythmic beat dances, and performances of dramas. Similarly, you will be welcomed with the aromas of sweet delicacies and savory treats.

      Many snake charmers are also seen with snakes coiled around them. Generally, their snakes are cobras; it is not a fascinating scene for people who fear snakes.
      The Snake Gods And Demigods.
      Nag Panchami is celebrated during the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravan when the moon is harnessing its positive energies. While the devotees protect and put offerings to all the snakes, they pay respect to the Nagas.

      Here, the Nagas are no ordinary snakes. Nagas are the Snake Lords, powerful entities often believed to be half-human and half-serpent. Often, they are said to be protectors of treasures, guardians of springs, wells, and rivers, and are also associated with fertility and prosperity.

      Likewise, they reside in the mystical realm of Patala, the underworld, and maintain the balance of the cosmic order.

      During the Nag Panchami occasion, the Hindu devotees worship multiple prominent Snake Lords, who are as follows.

      Ananta

      It is the name of Shesha, the celestial snake which means eternal. He is also often named Ananta-Shesha, which means endless or infinite Shesha. Not to mention, Anantya is responsible for holding all universe planets in his hoods.

      Ananta is a massive form that floats around in the universe (Ocean of the Milk) and turns into a coil where Lord Vishnu lies. Here, he is depicted as a five-headed, seven-headed, ten-headed, or even million-headed serpent.

      In Bhagavata Purana, Ananta is said to live within the deep layers of the Patala and reigns as a ruler. Additionally, he existed before the creation of the universe, and even during the end of the universe, he created eleven Rudras from the serpents and recreated the universe again.

      Vasuki

      In Hinduism, Vasuki is the King of the Nagas and has a Nagamani in his head. He is Ananta’s younger brother, and Manasa is his sister. Vasuki sits coiled around the neck of Lord Shiva as an ornament.

      As a fun fact, Vasuki is also famous in Buddhism, where he and other serpents worship and protect the Lord Budhha. Likewise, Vasuki is known as one of the “eight Great Dragon Kings” in Chinese and Japanese mythology.

      Karnataka

      He is one of the snake lords who lived in a forest near the Nishadha Kingdom. Besides Hindu mythology, Tibetan culture also mentions him as the massive white serpent in the southeast of the Great Lake. It is believed that dwelling around Karkotaka safeguards people from the asura Kali.

      Kaliya

      Kaliya is the venomous snake lord whom Lord Krishna subdued. He used to reside in the Yamuna River in Vrindavan. During his residence, the Yamuna River became poisonous due to his ven, killing all the plants and animals surrounding the area.

      Hence, Lord Krishna danced, standing on his hood to subdue his venom. Later, it was known that Kaliya had left his original home, the island of Ramanaka, due to the fear of Garuda (foe of all serpents).

      Takshaka

      He is also one of the snake lords who, in Chinese and Japanese mythology, is known as one of the “eight Great Dragon Kings.” Furthermore, he is the Lord’s friend, Indra’s friend, and the primary reason we celebrate Nag Panchami today.

      As for his residence, Takshaka used to dwell around the Khandava forest. He has also been referred to a lot in the Mahabharata.

      Apart from these Nagas (Snake Lords), there are multiple others, such as Shesh, Padyam, Kambala, Ashvatara, Dhristatashtra, Shankapala, and Pingala. Key Places Of Nag Panchami Celebration
      The traditional Hindu festival, Nag Panchami, is celebrated across Nepal. If you want to experience the occasion live during the season, you can enjoy it at three main places inside the valley: Nag Pokhari, Taudaha, and Nagdaha.

      Nag Pokhari

      As the name suggests, Nag Pokhari translates to snake’s pond. It is a historic artificial pond made in the 17th century by Queen Subarna Prabha.

      This park is located on the eastern side of the royal palace near Naxal. By design, this pond is 125 feet long, 65 feet wide, and 7 feet deep, with a massive statue of Snake Lord in the center.

      Taudaha

      Like Nag Pokhari, the name Taudaha also translates to Snake Lake. As per Buddhist mythology, Taudaha is one of the lakes formed after Manjushree cut Chovar Hill into two halves to drain all the water in which the Kathmandu Valley was submerged.

      During that time, the Snake Lords did not have a place to live, so they made Taudaha their home by building an underwater palace. Therefore, the locals do not swim or fish in that lake; you will also find numerous snakes.

      Nagdaha

      Nagdaha is closely associated with the Taudaha Lake as it is believed that the Nagdaha is home to all the female serpents while Taudaha is home to all the male serpents. This lake is part of the Dhapakhel Village Development Committee (VDC) of Lalitpur District.

      According to Hindu mythology, the male serpents of the Taudaha Lake often travel to Nagdaha through Panauti during the heavy monsoon season and return. Overall, this lake is home to snakes and multiple other creatures. If you ever visit this place, you will find a statue of Nag on the north-western side of the lake.


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        Nag Panchami Mantras

        During the celebration, the devotees often recite several mantras some of which are as follows.

        अनन्तं वासुकिं शेषं पद्मनाभं च कंबलं शंखपालं धार्तराष्ट्रं तक्षकं कालियं तथा एतानि नव नामानि नागानाम च महात्मनं सायमकाले पठेन्नीत्यं प्रातक्काले विशेषतः तस्य विषभयं नास्ति सर्वत्र विजयी भवेत || इति श्री नवनागस्त्रोत्रं सम्पूर्णं ||

        English Translation: Anantha, Vasuki, Sesha, Padmanabha and Kambala, Shankapala, Dhritharashtra, Thakshaka and Kaliya are the names of nine great naga (serpent) deities. Whoever recites this hymn in worship of these deities, either in the evening or especially in the morning, his/her fears are all destroyed, and he/she emerges victorious in all endeavors.

        नाग प्रीता भवन्ति शान्तिमाप्नोति बिअ विबोह्
        सशन्ति लोक मा साध्य मोदते सस्थित समः

        English Translation: Let all be blessed by the snake goddess; let everyone obtain peace
        Let all live peacefully without any turbulence.
        Importance Of Snakes in Hinduism
        In Hindu scriptures, the appearance of snakes plays an important role and is intertwined with multiple legends, tales, and deities. Their appearances are linked with the symbol of fertility and abundance.

        Apart from that, they are also connected with astrology as moon nodes. Generally, the head of the snake is represented as Rahu, whereas the tail is referred to as Ketu. All the houses of astrology fall between them.

        In the meantime, snakes are linked to masculinity and are believed to bless women with fertility often. Similarly, snakes symbolize farm abundance during the monsoon season, indicating the promise of a bountiful harvest.

        Moving on, the snakes represent reincarnation, rebirth, power, and immortality. Its ability to shed skin and regenerate is believed to resonate with the Hindu belief systems, indicating the eternal cycle of life: death and rebirth.

        Do’s And Don’ts During Nag Panchami

        ● Do not harm any snakes; it is considered a great sin.
        ● Avoid digging land during this celebration so as not to harm snakes.
        ● Do not use any sharp objects during the day.
        ● Avoid eating leafy vegetables during the day.
        ● Do provide offerings such as milk and rice pudding.
        ● Use this occasion to educate people about the celebration and significance of snakes in the ecosystem.

        In A Nutshell

        Like many other celebrations, Nag Panchami highlights the intricate relationship between humans and nature, particularly serpents. It is more than a mere celebration as Nag Panchami showcases Nepalese culture and spiritual thread among the devotees.

        This meticulously crafted tradition emphasizes the co-existence of snakes and humans while respecting the legends. Nag Panchami brings Nepal’s rich heritage and culture to life.

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