‘Panchami’ comes from the word ‘paanch’ meaning ‘five’ and Naag means ‘serpent’.
‘Panchami’ comes on the 5th day after the full moon or the new moon.
Naag Panchami is celebrated during the bright half of the month (Shrravan)
Naag Panchami is a harbinger of Lord Ganesh’s Utsav (Celebrations) which occur almost a month later.
A Snake offered to be the girdle of Lord Ganesha.
The best known serpent is Shesh Naag because Lord Vishnu reclines on him.
Laxmana (Sri Rama’s brother) and Balrama (Sri Krishna’s brother) are considered ‘Avtaars’ (Incarnations) of Shesh Naag.
Other well-known ‘Naagas’:
Ananta, Vasuki, Taxak, Karkotaka and Pingala.
Vaasuki: famous for acting as the ‘dori’ (string) during the ‘Samudra Manthan’ Churning of the Ocean.
Takshak: the snake that was to sting King Parikshit due to a curse.
Kaaliya: The snake that Lord Krishna banished from the River Yamuna.
It is believed that the world is balanced on Shesh Naag’s head.
They are the guardians of various directions.
Mythology mentions Nagas (snakes) as people as well as Snakes.
Snakes are believed to be living in their own world ‘Nagaloka or ‘Patala’ As such they are regarded custodians of the netherworlds.
There is many an ‘old’ story which mentions humans as marrying snakes or/and their progeny.
Indians (Hindus) worship snakes as their Benefactor Deities.
Snakes help good harvest because they eat pests.
Nagas were/are considered symbols of sexual energy and are guardians of wealth.
As told to me by Ms Vimla Patil
Wherever nature is revered as self-moving and so inherently divine, the serpent is revered as symbolic of its divine life
Serpents are your own DNA strands. Packed very tightly into every cell of your body is your DNA, and it is the blueprint that makes YOU…What scientists think is your dormant DNA is actually a multiple redundancy system. Encoded into that system is all of your vast potential for miracles. Some DNA is silent, and Kundalini can reawaken that DNA. Kundalini is the fire serpent, the spirit of DNA.
I used to see the universe as a mammoth snake, and I used to see all the people and objects, landscapes, as little pictures in the facets of their scales. I think peristaltic motion is the basic life movement.
In Biblical stories snakes are portrayed as the Devil Incarnate. Greek Chinese and Hindu mythologies repose the snake with wisdom, fertility and immortality…In some cultures the snake symbolizes the umbilical chord that connects us to Mother Earth.
Ancient Egyptians worshipped Apophis and Set. Sumerians revered Ningizzida, In America, the rattlesnake was believed to give fair winds or cause tempests.
During the rainy season snakes are forced to come out of their pits and holes that get flooded with water. Perhaps that is why naga Panchami is celebrated during the monsoon.
Excerpts from an article by Ranjeni A Singh