The Story of Nag Panchmi festival
Nag Panchmi festival is celebrated on fifth day of Shravan month of Shukla Paksha. The interesting story behind this festival is related to Pandavas. It happened that Raja Parikshit was killed after a snake bite. His son Janmejaya, vowed to decimate the whole race of snakes by performing a yagya. This yagya was stopped by intervention of Astika, who was son of Jaratkaru. Since this yagya was stopped on fifth day of shukla paksha of Shravan, Nag Panchmi is celebrated on this day.
A temple opens on this day only in Mahakaleshwar shrine
Nagchandreshwar darshan happens in a year only on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha of Shravan month.The temple opens its doors annually only on Nag Panchmi.The temple will open after proper worship and religious ceremonies to facilitate devotees to pay obeisance to the deity.
Astika saves Nagas
Astika was born to Sage Jaratkaru. He was a brilliant scholar, and was very learned in the Vedas and scriptures. When he was about sixteen, King Janamejaya performed the great snake-sacrifice with the aim of destroying all the snakes.
The sacrifice performed in the presence of Janamejaya was so powerful that it was causing all snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit). When the priests found that only Takshaka who had bitten and killed Parisksihit had escaped to the nether world of Indra seeking his protection, the sages increased the tempo of reciting the mantras (spells) to drag Takshaka and also Indra to the sacrificial fire. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indra’s cot but the force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that even Indra along with Takshaka were dragged towards the fire. This scared the gods who then appealed to Manasa devi to intervene and resolve the crisis. She then requested her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and appeal to Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna.
At his mother’s request, Astika went to the sacrifice, and obtained a boon from Janamejaya that the snake-sacrifice should be abandoned mid way. Thus he fulfilled the purpose of his birth, saving his kinsmen, the snakes from utter destruction.
Other legends of Nag Panchmi
This festival has rich mythological overtones, starting from the tremendous victory of Lord Krishna over the huge Kaliya in the Yamuna River. We have a further reference to Seshnag, the king of serpents, who was tamed by Lord Vishnu, as pictured in Ananda Padmanabha temple in Trivandrum of Kerala. The deity in the temple is Lord Vishnu, sleeping on the body of Seshnag. No wonder, the Keralites deem Nag Punchami as a huge festival and adore snakes on the day with piety. It is also considered as paying homage to Manasa, the serpent Goddess sister of Vasuki, the Snake who was used as a rope by the Devas and Asuras to churn the Milky Ocean.
Nag Puja is carried out in Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa in reverence of all snakes which have such a magnificent role in mythology. In Punjab, people celebrate Manasa Devi Ashtanag Puja (Guga Navami) by making a huge snake from flour and worshipping it. It is not only with Lord Vishnu, the greatness of snakes is associated; it is also with Lord Shiva- which is a very clear transparent concept, since it is the snake around the neck of Lord Shiva which inspires awe and piety on the very first look of the deity. Moreover in the Puranas, there is a reference to Brahma’s son’s wife as the mother of all nags.
There is also a mythological story about a goddess Sathyeshwari, whose brother Sathyeshwar died before the day of Nag Panchami. She grieved over the death of her brother without eating anything. She saw her brother in the form of a cobra and believed that it was her brother. So, Nagdev promised her that he would protect any woman who deems a cobra as her brother and worships it. Hence, it became the habit of Hindu women to worship snakes for the longevity and safety of their brothers on this day.
Story of serpent and farmer
In the context of Nag Panchami, many stories are famous. As per one of the story, a farmer used to live in a state with his two sons and one daughter. One day while ploughing the field, three children of snakes came under it and died. After the death of Naag(male snake), at first, Naagin(female snake) expressed sorrow by mourning, then, planed to take the revenge from the murderer of its sons.
In the darkness of night, Naagin, killed the farmer, his wife and his two sons by biting them. Next day morning, Naagin(she-serpent) came to bite the farmers daughter. The girl kept a bowl full of milk and joined hands for forgiveness,in front of Naagin. By this gesture of the girl, Naagin got happy and gave back the lives of farmer, his wife and two sons.
That day it was,Panchami Tithi of Shukla Paksha in Shravan Maas. From that day, to be safe of Serpent’s anger, they are worshiped on this day and Naag Panchami is celebrated.