Bengaluru: Nag Panchami, a festival during which people from many states across India worship and offer prayers to serpents falls on Thursday. According to the Hindu calendar, this auspicious day falls on the fifth day of the fortnight of the lunar day in the month of Shravan. People offer milk to serpents in return for blessings. Myths and tales are recanted and retold over the origin of this festival.
According to folklore, on Nag Panchami day snakes drink milk given to them by people. But it is a false conception that snakes drink or feed on milk, claim snake experts.
Mohan K., a BBMP certified snake catcher from Dasarahalli, emphasizes that many people pour milk onto ant mounds because snakes take shelter there. “This is wrong. Snakes move into mounds because it is warm inside. Snakes need the temperature to be around 35 degrees Celsius. This time of the year they tend to take shelter in ant hills.”
“Many people know this and go pour milk onto the ant hill expecting to feed the snake. And most of them take out the milk from their fridges which would have been stored overnight. This cold milk poured onto snakes can cause extreme discomfiture for them because serpents themselves are cold blooded. Please avoid doing this,” said Mohan. “It can even kill them,” he added.
Mohan also said that the origin of Nag Panchami mostly began due to the threat farmers faced from rats in the olden days. “Snakes consume rats and thus help the farmer. This could be a reason why they are worshipped,” he said.
Sanjeev, a herpetologist insists that snakes are a vital part of our ecosystem. “Snakes are friends of the farmer. They eat rats which are a threat to a good harvest and also to human health,” he said.
Appeasing the snake god
While there are various myths associated with the commencement of Naga Panchami, the widely believed one is that the day marks the victory of Lord Krishna over Kaliya, a black serpent. Nag Panchami is also called as Nag Chaturthi or Nagul Chavithi and the day is also known as Garuda panchami. Some believe that the day marks creation of Sheshnag (King of Snakes) by Lord Brahma. This year's Nag Panchami is special as celestial planets Rahu and Ketu's transit into Cancer and Capricorn respectively on the