Nag Panchami is one of those significant days and it is observed on Shukla Paksha Panchami during Shravan month. This year it will be celebrated today, August 13. On this day, Snakes are worshipped as people across India. Devotees find connect of snakes with Lord Shiva and hence pray the Lord to protect them from Serpents. According to Hindu Calendar, Nag Panchami is observed on the Panchami or the Fifth Day of the Shukal Paksh i.e. Lunar Period during Sawan Month.
Worshippers of Lord Shiva offer milk at temples, prepare Kheer at home and fast on this day to honor snakes who had an inseparable association with the Lord as He bears them around his neck and body as Ornaments.
Being a Yogi, Lord Shiva stayed in Jungles and Himalayas, and hence snakes are an integral part of Lord Shiva’s Aura. Other Deities in Hindu Mythology are also associated with Snakes like Lord Brahma created Sheshnag (King of Serpents) and rests on his coil; and Lord Krishna with Kaliya (Black Snake) whom he defeated in Vrindavan on the banks of Yamuna river.
People who observe Nag Panchami religiously according to Hindu tradition, worship twelve serpents on this day namely Ananta, Vasuki, Shesha, Padma, Kambala, Karkotaka, Ashvatara, Dhritarashtra, Shankhapala, Kaliya, Takshaka, and Pingala. They recite the Mahamritunjya Mantra on this day and also meditate on the name of Lord Shiva by chanting ‘Om Namaha Shivaya’.
On Nag Panchami, the idols of Dieties as well as Snakes are washed with Milk and worshipped. People pray to the Lords to keep them and their loved ones guarded from Snakes as during this time of the year snakes come out of their hideouts in search of dry places. Although venomous, snakes are considered peaceful and harmless beings and are said to be aggressive only when they are attacked by humans.
According to Hindu customs, snakes should not be killed and rather respected and humbly asked to leave if they enter someone’s house or come in the way. Hindus fast on this day and offer flowers, milk and sweets made with milk in temples and distribute the Prasad to the needy to mark Nag Panchami.