Nag Panchami festival is on 11th of August in 2013, Sunday, on 1st of August in 2014, Friday and on 19th of August in 2015, Wednesday.
Naag Panchami - A Unique Festival
Naag Panchami is a very unique festival as it is a festival of snakes. The Serpent God or Naag Devta is worshipped reverently. It is celebrated on the fifth day of Shravan, which falls in the English calendar month of July or August.
Snake worshipping in Hindu mythology
[caption id="attachment_1719" align="alignright" width="225" caption="A snake charmer in jaipur, Rajasthan"][/caption]
The worshipping of snakes as per Hindu mythology dates back to the very old days even before the Aryan invasion. The role of snakes has been very special in mythology. Lord Vishnu is depicted as resting on a thousand-headed snake known as Sheshnaag or Anatanaag, who has the power to hold up the entire earth. Even Lord Shiva is seen as having a snake coiled around his neck. There is very famous story of Kaliya Mardan associated with lord Krishna, where he celebrates his victory after killing the giant snake Kaliya.
Legends associated with Naag Panchami
Legend goes that a farmer while tilling his plot of land killed some young serpents. The mother serpent took revenge by biting all the family members of the farmer except, however, the eldest married daughter, who was known to worship snake. The devotion of the girl moved the serpent so much that she blessed the daughter and even sucked out the deadly venom from the bodies of the rest of the family members. Snake worship has its roots in the fear of human minds of getting fatally bitten.
Celebration of Naag Panchami
Naag Panchami is associated with fasts and worshipping of snakes with offerings of milk. Women draw pictures and images of snakes on the walls of their houses with a mixture prepared with cow dung, milk, and black powder. People also leave offerings of milk, sweets, ghee, rice, and water near snake holes. Devotees get elated if snakes drink the offerings. It is supposed to be an auspicious sign and is believed to bring prosperity for the worshippers.
The celebrations differ in different parts of the country. To name some states that celebrate this festival are Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Kerala, and Rajasthan. In Jodhpur, people celebrate by preparing huge cloth effigies of the serpents that they display at major fairs. In West Bengal and parts of Assam and Orissa, the snake deity that is worshipped on Naag Panchami is the Goddess Manasa. In Kerala, hundreds of people visit snake temples on this day to worship stone or metal icons of the cosmic serpent Anantanaaga or Seshanaaga. People also visit the temple of Lord Shiva with offerings of milk, fruits, and flowers.