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Naag Panchami

 Naag Panchami
Naag Panchami, a Hindu festival, is observed by performing worship to Naag (cobra) in real or their images.

Time of Celebration
According to Hindu calendar, this festival is celebrated on the fifth day of moonlit fortnight (Amavasya) of Shraavana month. According to Georgian calendar, it usually falls either in the month of July or August.

Legends for the Day
In ancient India, a tribe with the name ‘Nagas’ was in existence, which had a highly developed culture. As a part of that culture, they used to worship snakes. Later, though they got merged into the Hinduism, their culture of worshipping snakes as deities still managed to prevail in significant proportion. Puranas has also put light on that. It has stated some prominent cobra snakes.

Most of the legends associated with cobra snakes in Hinduism hold mentioning of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, and Lord Subramanyam in some proportion or other. There is a prominent belief that all serpents are under the blessings of Lord Shiva, further confirmed by his manifestation in which he is portrayed with a cobra snake around his neck. Then, the Sheshnaga of Lord Vishnu is another prominent reference depicting how significant serpents have been in the Hindu religion. However, the most popular legend which most of the Hindus find easy to get associated with is associated with Lord Krishna, which described how Lord Krishna as an infant conquered Naga Kaliya and made him move out of Yamuna River, thus saving people from drinking poisonous water.

Besides Hinduism, serpents have also been admired in Jainism and Buddhism for different significant legends associated with them. While in Buddhism, they are revered because a cobra snake once saved life of Lord Buddha, in Jainism, they are worshipped because one cobra snake saved life of Jain Muni Parshwanath.

Rituals and Celebrations
1. Worshipping snakes in very intrinsic to our religion and culture. For the fact, this actually is not only confined to Indian beliefs, but is in existence with immense prevalence in many other countries. In India, Naag Panchami is one occasion when ritualistic worships are performed in adoration or snakes.

2. The time of this festival collides with the time of rain. During this period, serpents come out of their holes which have been filled with rain-water to take shelter in houses, fields, and gardens. People living around possess great vulnerability to suffer their attacks. In order to forbid the same, serpents are worshipped on this day.

3. On this day, a priest or a Brahmin is called to perform the religious rituals. With their assistance and guidance, serpents are bathed with milk, adorned with haldi-kumkum (turmeric powder), and feed with rice and milk. The Brahmin or priest who is called upon to perform the rituals is offered Dakshina (alms) in the form of silver or gold coins, and sometimes in the form of a cow.

4. Married women visit their premarital household on this day to perform rituals.

5. In the beliefs of Hindu religion, Lord Shiva is associated with serpents. Believing in the same, devotees in large numbers make a visit to Shiva temples.

6. In South India, there is a ritual of drawing images of snakes using cow dung around the two sides of the entrance of the house. It is seen as a figure of reception to welcome snake god. There are some who draw pictures of a five-hood snake by using a mixture of turmeric powder (Haldi-kumkum), sandal (chandan), saffron (keshar), and fragment (gandh) on a metal plate.

7. In rural parts of India, this festival is celebrated with immense festive cheer. Local women hung swings over the strong branches of tree and then swing over it while dancing and singing in joy.

8. Ploughing field on this day is forbidden

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