Nag Panchami is the festival to worship Nag – snake. The snakes are scary reptile as some of them are poisonous. The snakes that are referred as Nag are usually poisonous cobra snakes. The festival is celebrated to be safe from the snakes.
The people in Kathmandu go to Taudaha Lake, Naagpokhari to worship the Naag. Naagdaha at Dhapakhel in Lalitpur also considered one of the places to go for Naag Panchami Puja.
A story of Nag Panchami
There are various stories to explain the reason people started worshiping the snake god. According to a legend, while plowing on field, a farmer had killed three baby snakes. When the mother snake found out about the death, it crept into the house and killed everybody in the house.
All but one of the daughters of the farmer had gone to a neighbour’s house on that night. So, she escaped snake bite and survived. When the Nag found out the girl has survived she went to bite her too. But, the daughter started worshiping the Nag and offered her foods when she visited the house. The snake god was very happy by the devotion of the daughter. She later brought everybody back to life and the family lived happily.
The story of the survival spread allover the place and they started worshiping the Nag god.
According to various mythological scriptures like Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and Mahabharata give account of worshiping of snakes.
According to the Mahabharata epic, King Parikshita of Kuru dynasty was killed by a snake bite by the snake king called Taksaka. The son of King Parikshita, Janamejeya, was so angered by his father’s death that he performed a snake sacrifice Yagya, known as Sarpa Satra. For the Yagya, a sacrificial fireplace was prepared to kill all the snakes in the world. The sacrifice performed was so powerful that it was caused all the snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit).
The snake king Takshaka however escaped to the nether world of Indra to seek his protection. The sages at the Yagna Kunda increased the tempo of reciting the mantras to drag Takshaka to the Yagna Kunda. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indraâ€™s cot. The force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that Indra was also dragged along with Takshaka towards the fire.
The gods were scared and they appealed to Manasadevi to resolve the crisis. Manasadevi asked her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and request Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna. Janamejaya was impressed by Astika’s knowledge of all the Sastras. When Janamejaya granted Astika a boon – Astika requested Janamejeya to stop the Sarpa Satra. As the king was bound by his promise he couldn’t refuse a boon given to the Brahmin. The yagna was then stopped and the life of Indra and Takshaka were spared. Since then the day celebrated as Naag Panchami.