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Om! Gam! Ganapathaye! Namaha!

Om! Sri Raghavendraya Namaha!


Om! Namo! Bhagavathe! Vaasudevaya!
Om! Ham! Hanumathe! Sri Rama Doothaya Namaha!

Naga Chaturthi – Garuda Panchami


(Significance of Snake Worship)

Significance

Generally we find people getting scared at the sight of a snake, but in reality
serpents have become a part and parcel of our Hindu religion and culture.
They have acquired a prominent place in Hindu Puranas. Among the snakes,
Cobra is considered as Serpent God (Naga Devatha) and Nagaaradhana
(Snake worship) is one of the accepted sattsampradaya in Hindu religion
since yore. There is a separate world for snakes known as Naga Loka
among the nether worlds. Among the serpent Gods, Aadi Sesha and Vasuki
are in the forefront. We find many pouranic legends associated with
Serpents and their worship.

Symbolism of several Deities is associated with Serpents. For example the


seat on which Lord Sri Maha Vishnu rests in his abode Sri Vaikunta is
nothing but Aadi Sesha the serpent God. It is said and believed that Lord
Aadi Sesha is bearing the weight of the entire Earth on his shoulders. Lord
Shiva’s neck is adored by a serpent. Lord Ganesha is depicted as wearing
Naga Yagnopaveetham. Lord Subramanya is famously worshipped in the
form of Snake. We find Lord Sri Venkateshwara at Tirumala wearing
Nagabharana on his shoulders. Lord Sri Krishna says in Sri Bhagawad Geeta
(Chapter # 10 sloka 28 & 29) that He is Anantha among the Naga Sect and
Vasuki among the Serpents.

During Ksheera Sagara Madhanam, Vasuki the Serpent God was used as a
rope for churning the ocean. Tirumala the abode of Lord Sri Venkateshwara
is also known as Seshachalam named after the Serpent God Sri Aadi Sesha.
From a distance the seven hills appears in a serpentine form. In Treta Yuga,
during Sri Ramaavathara, Aadi Sesha took the form of Lakshmana, Lord Sri
Rama’s younger brother and in Dwapara Yuga during Sri Krishnaavathara he
took the form of Balarama the elder brother of Lord Sri Krishna. Arjuna of
Mahabharatha fame married a Naga Kanya called Uloochi. Among the great
Madhva Saints, Sri Jaya Theertharu (TeekaRayaru) is considered as the
Aavesha avathara of Lord Aadi Sesha. We find in the life history of Saint Sri
Raghavendra Swamy having worshipped Naga Devatha by offering daily milk
during his 13 years of stay in the house of Sri Appanacharya at Bichhali near
Mantralayam. Naga Devatha is one of the nine presiding Deities of
Yagnopaveetham who is also offered prayers before wearing it.

A snake-bill is considered as a temple of Serpent God and in some places


snake idols are installed under the shade of Banyan Tree where we find
people regularly worshipping the Snake God. At some other places we find
exclusive temples erected for Naga Devatha worship. In some families
especially in South India, we find exclusive private temples of Naga Devatha
are erected by the family members and they conduct annual festival in its
honour. Naga is a household name among Hindus and we find people calling
their children with the name of Nagadevatha. People perform Nagaaradhana
and worship the Naga Devatha for the welfare and wellbeing of their family
and children and for taking forward their family lineage. It is strongly
believed and said that for those who are childless, Naga Devatha Pratishta
and Nagaaradhana bestows them with progeny.

Naga Kshethras
There are several pilgrim centers considered as Naga Kshethras where,
Serpent God is worshipped as a presiding Deity. Some of the famous and
ancient Naga Kshethras associated with pouranic legends are Sri Kukke
Subramanya in South Canara in Karnataka State, Sri Kshethra Kudupu near
Mangalore, Sri Kalahasthi near Tirupathi, Ghaati Subramanya near
Doddabalapur in Karnataka, Thirunageswaram near Kumbhakonam and
Nagerkoil in Tamil Nadu, Manasa Devi temple in Hardwar in Uttar Pradesh,
and Nageshwar Jyothirlinga Kshetra near Dwaraka are some of the famous
Naga Kshethras. Apart from the above, there are six Subramanya Kshethras
in Tamil Nadu viz. Thiruttani, Palani, Tiruchendur, Tirupparakundram, Swami
Malai and Pazamudhircholai which are also worshipped as Naga Kshethras.

Naga Devatha festivals


Naga Chaturthi falling on the 4th day in the bright fortnight of auspicious
Sravana Masam followed by Naga Panchami on the next day is celebrated as
Naga Devatha festival. Serpent God Sri Aadi Sesha is the presiding Deity for
Panchami thithi. It is a festival celebrated every year in honour of Snakes.
It is considered as highly auspicious and sacred to worship the Serpent God
on these days. It is said to be the day on which Lord Brahma gave a boon
to Serpents that they would get adored by human beings on the Earth. It
was on this day of Naga Panchami it seems, King Janamejaya stopped his
Sarpa Yaga and new lease of life was given to the Serpents.

People from all walks of life in Hindu religion participate in this festival with
full faith and religious fervor. During the festival we find people worshipping
Snake God by symbolically drawing the picture of a snake on both sides of
the outer wall of their houses. They visit a Snake bill and offer cow milk,
and preparations made with Thil Seeds, Jaggery, and Rice as offerings to the
Snake God. They also bring Mrittika (sacred mud) from the snake bill and
apply the same on their body with a belief that it will help in getting rid of
health aberrations. Those who cannot visit a Snake bill we find people
worshipping the snake God at home by performing abhisheka with cow milk
to a silver idol of a snake and offering their prayers. We find people observe
fasting on the day of Naga Chaturthi and break the same on the next day
after offering prayers to Naga Devatha once again. On the day of Naga
Chaturthi/Panchami digging of soil, ploughing of the field and cutting of trees
is forbidden.

Naga Panchami day is also referred to as Garuda Panchami. On this day


Lord Garuda is also worshipped along with the Nagadevatha. In some parts
of South India, we find people performing the festival of Naga Chaturthi on
the 4th day of bright fortnight in Kartheeka Masam. Subramanya Shasti
popularly known as Skhanda Shasti falling on the 6th day of bright fortnight
in Margasira masam is also preferred for worshiping Naga Devatha in the
form of Lord Subramanya.

Time and again through its medium of festivals, Hindu philosophy put across
the human race to live in tandem and harmony with the nature and its
species. Perhaps this is the message the festival of Naga Panchami conveys.

Ananthananthadevesha Anantha Phaladayaka!


Anantharoopi Viswathman Ananthaya Namo Namaha!!

Sri Krishnaarpanamasthu
bhargavasarma