Nag Panchami, it is a traditional worship of snakes or serpents which are being observed by Hindus throughout India and also in Nepal. The worship is offered on the fifth day of bright half of Lunar month of Shravan which comes in July or August, according to the basic Hindu calendar.
The abode of snakes is believed to be patal lok, (the seven realms of the universe located below the earth) and the lowest of them is Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas, as part of the creation force and their blessings are sought for the welfare of the whole family. Serpent deity which is made of silver, stone or wood or the painting of snakes on the wall are given a bath with milk.
There is a very important place in the Hindu puranic literature, Kashyapa, who is the son of Lord Brahma and the creator who had four consorts and the third wife was Kadroo who belonged to the Naga race of the Pitru Loka and she had given birth to the Nagas. Among the other three, the first wife gave birth to Devas, the second to Garuda and the fourth to Daityas.
There is also a very important story in the Mahabharata, which is an epic story, Astika, the Brahmin son of Jaratkarus, who stopped the Sarpa Satra of Janamejaya, king of the Kuru empire which lasted for 12 years is well documented in this great Literature. This yagna was performed by Janamejaya to decimate the race of all snakes, to avenge for the death of his father Parikshit due to snake bite of Takshaka, woh is the king of snakes. The day that the yagna ritual was stopped, due to the intervention of the Astika, was on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day in the month of Shravan when Takshaka, the king of snakes and his remaining race at that time were saved from decimation by the Sarpa Satra yagna.
Since that day, the festival is observed as Nag Panchami.
On the holy day oof Nag Panchami day, All types of snakes or cobras are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps and even sacrifices. Images of Nag 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.
A Fast is observed on this day and then Brahmins are fed. The piety observed on this day is considered a sure protection against the fear of snake bite. At many places, real snakes are worshipped and fairs held. On this day digging the earth is taboo as it could kill or harm snakes which reside in the earth.
Nagas in Naga Loka
In some regions of the country milk is offered along with crystallized sugar, rice pudding. A special feature is of offering a lotus flower which is placed in a silver bowl. In front of this bowl, a rangoli which is made of coloured design pattern and a snake is created on the floor with a brush made of wood or clay or silver or gold with sandalwood or turmeric paste as the paint. The design pattern will resemble a five hooded snake. Devotees then offer worship to this image on the floor.