Written by London swaminathan

Date: 4 August 2018


Time uploaded in London – 11-59 AM  (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5288


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Wikipedia, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.






This year (2018), Naga Panchami falls on 15th of August. It is a Hindu festival celebrated throughout India. Though the stories change from area to area the basis is same. People worship snakes or snake goddess on that day. Snake goddess is found in Rig Veda, Greece, Indus Valley and South Indian villages (Please see my articles listed at the end).


It falls on Suklapaksha Panchami of Ashada (Adi in Tamil) month.


(Naga= snake, Panchami= Fifth Lunar day)



English word snake came from Sanskrit= S+Naga= Snake

English word serpent came from Sanskrit Sarpa

Tamil word Aravu/ Aravam came from Sanskrit Sarpam (s dropped, p=v;according to linguistic rule)


Hindus show great respect to environment. They want to keep disturbance to the nature to the minimum. From the morning, they worship nature. Before putting their feet on earth (floor) they ask for pardon (Padas sparsam Kshamsvame). Before they dig the land for wells or ploughing the land, they ask for pardon. They say cutting the trees is a sin. They called the earth mother (Bhuma Devi= Gaiya in Greek). It is in the oldest book, the Vedas.


They are scientists; so, they know that optimum utilisation of nature is the best. Though they know snakes are poisonous animals, they still worshipped the poisonous cobras. They knew that snakes are required to kill the rats in the fields. If the rats are not controlled food production will be reduced. They knew snakes form a vital link and it maintains an equilibrium in Nature. That is why all Hindu gods are adorned with snakes!


They also know that snakes never bite a man unless and otherwise they are threatened or disturbed. People walking in the villages, particularly during nights just clap the hands and walk ( can the snakes hear human sounds? do they have ears? discussed in my previous articles)


In some parts of India Naga Panchami continue for one month till the Panchami of next month (Ashada to Bhadra).

Holes in the anthills are considered to be the homes of cobras. Women worship them even on ordinary Fridays and they pour milk in the holes.


Bengalese plant a milky white plant (Euphorbia Lingularum) on these days on a raised mound of earth in the courtyards of their houses and worship Goddess Manasa Devi. They worship her to get immunity from snake bites or avoiding bitten by snakes. If anyone has died due to snake bite in the family all of them join in worship and they pour milk in the ant hills where snakes live.


Punjabis draw a black figure on the wall to avoid snakes coming into the houses. The figure represents snake goddess.


In the central parts of Indi,a they paint snakes and birds on walls and they make a paste with wheat and pulses. They dip grass in the paste and make snake figures. They offer sweets and milk to the snakes.


In Maharashtra and other parts, they offer milk and dried rice to snakes. They pour it in the places where they live. They even avoid digging and ploughing on those days.


In Karnataka, a vrata(fasting) named Citranemi is observed.


In Mithila (Bihar- Nepal border) Mauni Panchami is celebrated.


In Orissa and Dravida, Guru Panchami is celebrated by worshipping Lakshmi and Gauri on that day.





In South India the story is about a Brahmana boy bitten by a cobra when he went to get a Ketaki flower ( Thazam Pu in Tamil; Pandanus Fascicularis) . His sisters followed a vow (Vrata) and brought him back to life. The fourth day of waxing moon in Sravana month is observed as Festival of Brothers and Sisters. They observe it.


Another story


Chand was a merchant who did not believe in the Goddess Manasa devi. As a result, he lost all his sons due to snake bites. But yet he was very obstinate and never paid reverence to the Goddess. He got one more son who was the apple of his eyes. He was still obstinate in not worshipping Manasa and Manasa Devi was also relentless and she bit his son on his wedding day in spite of his precautions. His newly wed wife Vehula did not allow his body to be cremated. She was fasting till her body became a skeleton but never stopped her prayers to Manasa. She begged to Manasa for the restoration of his husband’s life. At last Manasa relented and gave his life back.


It is the belief of many that a person supposed to be dead by a snake bite, really lives in a state of suspended animation for a long time after.

Hindus, by not killing the snakes, the vital animal in the food production chain, increase the production of food grains. The snakes keep even frogs and toads in control which freely enters every home during rainy season.


Villagers don’t fear snakes even when it enters a house; they simply trap it in a box or pot and release it in the field. They know the value of it.


Every village has some snake charmers, who handle snakes without any fear. Every village has a medicine man with anti-dotes for venom. But yet snake bites kill hundreds of villagers; it is said that more people die in panic or not seeking proper help.




What do Hindus do on Naga panchami Day?


1.They go to ant hills where the snakes live, they pour milk or feed them with some eatables (only vegetarian food).


2.They actually worship the snakes if they see them with utmost reverence.


3.They worship snake goddess Manasa Devi and other snake (Naga sculptures) stones.


4.They draw pictures of snake goddesses on the walls in houses.


  1. They draw pictures of snakes and birds which will drive away the fear of snakes.


  1. Through these activities, they psychologically prepare children and women not to panic when they see snakes in the garden or filed.


Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures have hundreds of snake bite stories; most of the bitten people came back to life by the grace of a saint or God.


Being a tropical country India has hundreds of varieties of snakes and most of them are non-poisonous.


Foreigners have taken several videos and films in appreciation of Hindus’ reverence to snakes




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