Vasant Moon, in Growing
up Untouchables in India
, talks about the festival of snakes or Nagpanchmi
as he reminisces about his childhood celebrating the festival. According to
him, it is celebrated by every house, and the commemoration starts with the
sweeping and the sprinkling of fresh and pure water everywhere. People prepare
various kinds of typical dishes, like muthe,
chapattis, and pahile or khis
; however, people do not eat food cooked in
oil at mealtimes. Moreover, children enjoy the festival by playing games like
competition to get lemons or coconuts thrown at certain distance. Furthermore,
they also entertain themselves by seeing magic shows, which are mainly
affiliated to snakes.

Nagpanchmi may be very unfamiliar to many friends in
my class as they do not belong to Hindu families, so I hope you will get a bit
of ideas from this blog entry in addition to what Moon has written in his
autobiography. A majority of people are Hindus in Nepal, so a significant
number of people celebrate Nagpanchmi, which lies mainly on the month of
August. It is believed that serpents are very perilous and poisonous animals,
and if people worship them, they will never get bitten by snakes. Moreover,
people also believe that serpents are sources of water. Since more than 70% of
the total Nepalese population work in farms, they need water. Therefore, they
worship snakes for water. Besides, Purans say that the entire earth is lifted
by a serpent named Shesh Nag on his head, and Lord Vishnu sits on the coil of
the serpent. Hence, people worship Nags in regard to Lord Vishnu also.

Like Moon has described in the autobiography, in
Nepal also, the celebration of Nagpanchmi begins with the sweeping and the
sprinkling of pure water everywhere in houses, and people prepare and eat
various special dishes like samay bazi,
bara, chhwela, and chhyala. Nevertheless, other parts of
celebration do not match with what Moon has described. In Nepal, people put
serpents’ pictures above the main entrance door of their houses and worship them
by offering cow’s milk; rice grains, flowers, and other oblations. Cow’s milk
is an indispensable item to worship the Nags. Moreover, there are holy ponds
named Nagpokhari at Naxal, Taudaha pokhari at Kirtipur, and Naagdaha at
Dhapakhel, where people take bath and worship the snake god.

It may sound very absurd to many people, but it is
one of the most important festivals in Hinduism.

About kalpana23
I am a student.

One Response to Napanchmi

  1. dorjiom says:

    Thank you very much Kalpana for giving us more information about Nagpanchmi. I saw in Hindi movies about how Indians celebrate Nagpanchmi but I never knew the reason behind celebrating such festivals. However, in movies I saw snakes coming in the middle of the night to drink the milk and fruits offered by the worshippers. I even saw them turing into human beings and protecting their worshippers. Is this true? Do snakes really come to drink the milk? Do you consider it as a bad omen if snakes didn’t turn up to accapt your offers?

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