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In two days, the festival of Nag Panchami will be celebrated throughout India and Nepal. The festival, dedicated to snakes, traditionally happens on the fifth day of the month of Shravan, a holy month for Hindus across the country. Some say that Nag Panchami falls during the monsoon months because it is when snakes are most visible, seeking refuge in houses after their underground homes get filled with rainwater. With more snakes slithering around, the festival was formed to appease the snake god and keep people safe. Also Read - Markets Open, Flight Operations Resume at Mumbai Airport as Cyclone Nisarga Weakens | 10 Points
Nag Panchami celebrations in Maharasthra often involves the women wearing the region’s famous nine-yard Navvari sarees. All decked up, the women conduct their Pujas on Nag Panchami at home or with the rest of the community. They often head to their nearest temple with a deity of the snake god as well. In some places, snake charmers can be found roaming the roads, often with their pet snakes, singing local tunes in praise of the serpent god. They offer their snakes to the local women as the object of prayer, with the women sprinkling flowers and turmeric powder on the heads of the snakes and then giving them sweetened milk as an offering. The snake charmers, meanwhile, get old clothes or cash for renting out their snakes for the day. Also Read - Cyclone Nisarga: No Flight Operation at Mumbai Airport Till 7 PM; Mobile Network Services Disrupted in Raigad
If you do not have the luxury of getting a snake to your doorstep, you could also place bowls of milk in places that are frequented by the reptiles. Waiting for the snakes to arrive is an optional task, though. Elders who no longer wish to court a snake can instead be found drawing images of the five-headed king of snakes, Sheshnaga. In some households, there is a tradition of daughters washing their fathers’ eyes with rose flower-dipped milk. Some homes follow a strict ban on fried items on the day of Nag Panchami in Maharashtra. CHECK OUT Hindu Calendar 2017: Month-wise list of auspicious Hindu days of 2017
For the most elaborate and probably the most dangerous celebration of the festival, the village of Baltis Shirale is supposedly the place to go. The people remove live snakes from their holes, covering them and feeding them with milk and rats around a week before the actual festival. These snakes are apparently not defanged like the ones usually carted around by snake charmers, because the villagers believe that this would harm the creatures. Despite the fact that the snakes are seemingly removed from their homes for the festival, there are generally no reports of snake bites in the village. On the eve of Nag Panchami, the young folk of the village carry the pots on their heads, dancing in a procession to the temple of Amba. Once there, a Puja is performed before the snakes are released into the temple courtyard and then sprinkled with turmeric and offered honey and milk.
Once the festival’s rituals at the temple are over, the snakes are put back in the puts and taken through Shirala village, where women line up outside the hoses to glimpse the procession. A few cobras are also let loose for the prayers and offerings. If you are in the mood for a bit more fun, you can head to the fair that is held around the temple of Amba. As for the snakes, they are released into the jungle the next day.