KATHMANDU: Hindus are observing the Nagapanchami festival today as per the time-honoured tradition.
Nagapanchami is the festival dedicated to Naga or the serpent god. It is observed on the fifth day of the bright half of the Nepali month of Shrawan as per the lunar calendar.
On this day, the head of the family pastes a picture of the Naga or the snake god above the main door of the house and offers worship to the serpent deity.
The Naga is taken as the god of water and rain, and as per the religious belief, it is said that the house where the Naga deity resides is bestowed with wealth and prosperity.
It is believed that the worship of the snake goes back to the time before the ancient Vedic era.
There is also the belief that pasting the picture of the Naga deity on the doorway of houses provides protection from thunder bolt, lightning and fire as well as attacks by snakes and scorpions.
Various ancient Hindu scriptures like the Garuda Purana, Skanda Purana, Narad Purana, Bhabishya Purana and Baraha Purana mention about the worship of the Naga. Besides the Hindus, followers of Budhhism and Jainism also worship the Naga. The eight different Nagas mentioned in the scriptures are the Ananta, Basuki, Padma, Mahapadma, Takshaka, Kuleer, Karkata and Shankha.
People make offerings of the dubo grass, milk and the paste of rice grains, red vermillion powder and yoghurt known as akshata to the Naga deity. They also light incense sticks. Devotees offer special pooja at the shrines dedicated to the Naga deity by offering rice pudding, special bread cooked in ghee etc.
On the occasion of Nagapanchami festival, special religious fairs also take place at Nagapokhari of Naxal and Taudaha, Kathmandu; Nagadaha of Dhapakhel, Lalitpur; Siddhapopkhari of Bhaktapur; Panauti of Kavre and many other places in the country.
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