Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nag Panchami 2011

The Times of India is reporting the following story today, August 4, 2011.

KERI: Among the reptiles, snakes are the most misunderstood. They incur the wrath of the public and are killed as they are venomous. The common cobra is the most poisonous and even a bite can be fatal if timely and appropriate treatment is not taken.

Ironically, though the common cobra is venomous, people from various parts of India worship it as a deity. The fifth day of Shravan in the Hindu calendar is celebrated as Nag Panchami and is associated with the worship of clay idols of cobras in many Hindu houses across Goa.

The Avakhale families of Virdi in Bicholim and Shet families in Kumbharjuve eat vegetarian food on the occasion of Nag Panchami, but do not worship clay cobra idols.

The Desai families in Kothambi, Quepem, visit the temple on this day, and worship a clay idol of a snake kept there.

"Our family does not worship an idol, but a picture of a cobra is drawn on a banana leaf with turmeric paste," says Gayatri Damle from Khaiti of Kasarpal in Bicholim.

In Caranzol, Sattari, at the temple of Shantadurga, folk deity Brahmani has a hooded cobra on both of her sides. However, despite the deity's affinity to the snake god and Lord Shiva always shown with a cobra, some Hindu families do not celebrate the festival. They don't worship clay idols of cobras believing that their ancestors would eat cobras made from flour.

In the past, there was a tradition of making a snake idol from kneaded flour. When there was nothing to eat for the festival, some families would satisfy their hunger by eating the cobras made out of the flour.

Suchita Shet from Gholwada- Kumbharjuve, says, "It is believed that once, a cobra ate a certain dish prepared from shevyo (vermicelli). Hence, our families do not worship the clay idol of the cobra."

Among those who do celebrate the festival, there are certain taboos associated with Nag Panchami day. People do not dig in soil and no one plucks mushrooms as the ant hill is considered to be the abode of the cobra.

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