OMG! See The Strange Culture Where Milk Is Wasted On Snakes As A Form Of Worship • illuminaija
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OMG! See The Strange Culture Where Milk Is Wasted On Snakes As A Form Of Worship

   
   

OMG! See The Strange Culture Where Milk Is Wasted On Snakes As A Form Of Worship

India shares a very old bond with snakes. These frightening beings have played a prominent role throughout Indian mythology and folklore.  India is known to many still, as the Land Of Snake Charmers. Till date, the fifth day of the lunar month of Shravan is celebrated as Nag Panchami across India and Nepal. Live Cobras, without their venomous fangs removed, are worshipped! Priests sprinkle haldi-kumkum and flower petals on their raised hoods. Devotees feed them milk and even rats. It is popularly believed that snakes do not bite on Nag Panchami .

Naga Panchami is a day of traditional worship of Nagas or snakes observed by Hindus throughout India, Nepal, and other countries where Hindu adherents live. The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of lunar month of Shravana (July/August), according to the Hindu calendar. Some Indian states, such as Rajasthan and Gujarat, celebrate Naga Panchami on the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the same month. As part of the festivities, a Naga or serpent deity made of silver, stone, wood, or a painting of snakes is given a reverential bath with milk and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Live snakes, especially cobras, are also worshipped on this day, especially with offerings of milk and generally with the assistance of a snake charmer.

In the Mahabharata epic, the sage Astika’s quest to stop the sacrifice of serpents (Sarpa Satra) of King Janamejaya, is well known, as it was during this sacrifice that the Mahabharata as a whole was first narrated by the sage, Vaisampayana. This yagna sacrifice was performed by Janamejaya to decimate the race of Nagas through killing every snake in existence to avenge the death of his father Parikshita due to the deadly bite of Takshaka, the king of the snakes. The day that the sacrifice was stopped, due to the intervention of the Astika, was on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day in the month of Shravana. That day has since been observed as Naga Panchami. 

Panchami is the fifth day among the fifteen days of the moon’s waxing and/or waning. This special day of the serpent worship always falls on the fifth day of the moon’s waning in the Lunar Hindu month of Shravana July/August. Hence this is called Naga Panchami (Naga: cobra; or simply, serpent).

   
   

OMG! See The Strange Culture Where Milk Is Wasted On Snakes As A Form Of Worship

There are many legends in Hindu mythology and folklore narrated to the importance of worship of snakes. 

According to Hindu Puranic literature and the Mahabharata, Kashyapa, son of the universal creator Lord Brahma, married two daughters of Prajapati, Kadru and Vinata. Kadru then gave birth to the race of Nagas, while Vinata gave birth to Aruna, who became the charioteer of the sun god, Surya, and also birth to the great eagle Garuda, who became the carrier of Vishnu. 

Naga Panchami is also a day when Akhara, traditional Indian wrestling gyms, hold special celebrations to honor the mystical symbolism of the snake as a symbol of virility and kundalini energy. 

Indian scriptures such as Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and the Mahabharata give details of history of snakes extolling worship of snakes. 

Sarpa Satra, the snake sacrifice where Astika, young Brahmin stops the yagna.

In the Mahabharata epic, Janamejaya, the son of King Parikshita of the Kuru dynasty was performing a snake sacrifice known as Sarpa Satra, to avenge for the death of his father from a snake bite by the snake king called Takshaka. A sacrificial fireplace had been specially erected and the fire sacrifice to kill all snakes in the world was started by a galaxy of learned Brahmin sages. 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 Parisksihita 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 Manasadevi 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. Astika impressed Janamejaya with his knowledge of all the Sastras (scriptures) who granted him to seek a boon. It was then that Astika requested Janamejeya to stop the Sarpa Satra. Since the king was never known to refuse a boon given to a Brahmin, he relented, in spite of protects by the rishis performing the yagna. The yagna was then stopped and thus the life of Indra and Takshaka and his other serpent race were spared. This day, according to the Hindu Calendar, happened to be Nadivardhini Panchami (fifth day of bright fortnight of the lunar month of Shravana during the monsoon season) and since then the day is a festival day of the Nagas as their life was spared on this day. Indra also went to Manasadevi and worshipped her.

OMG! See The Strange Culture Where Milk Is Wasted On Snakes As A Form Of Worship

According to the Garuda Purana, offering prayers to snake on this day is auspicious and will usher good tidings in one’s life. This is to be followed by feeding Brahmins. 

   
   

On day of Naga Panchami, Nagas, cobras, and snakes are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps, and even sacrifices. Naga or serpent deities made of silver, stone, wood, or paintings on the wall are first bathed with water and milk and then worshipped with the reciting of the following mantras. 

   
   

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