By Team Mangalorean
Photographs: RK Bhat
Mangalore, August 18, 2007: The headline looks apt for the occasion. The ancient Hindu mythology maintains that the entire world belonged to the Naaga Devatha and when God found a new species in human beings he asked the Naga Devatha to go underground and guard the species which lived on the top. Various Samhitas and Puranas speak volumes of the importance of the Nagaradhane.
In Dakshina Kannada district the Nagaradhane is done in a big way through drawing ‘Nagamandlas' which is believed to rid a family or a community or even a larger group of people of their sins. Similarly, there are dedicated Naga Sthanas (shrines) for families and communities which are up-kept by the designated community or the family.
But Nagara Panchami is a festival which heralds the beginning of the festive season. It is observed on the first Panchami according to the Hindu almanac (Panchanga) in the Shravana season. This is when the door of Vaikunta (abode of Vishnu) opens for all good works. It is a clear message that the first pooja should be given to the Naaga Devatha. It could be recalled here that those who build new houses pray to the Naga devatha even before they begin digging for the foundation. The prayer requests the Naga Devatha to move away from the land which has been chosen for constructing a dwelling for the human being.
Naga Panchami is a festival of offering the first ‘Havissu' (portion of milk sweetened with honey and Sugar). On this day the Naga Parthishte will be cleaned and decorated with flowers, turmeric powder and given Abhisheka of tender coconut, milk honey and special poojas are performed. It is customary on that day that lord Varuna (rain god) also provides showers.
On this day every household in Hindu society offer tender coconut, milk, sugar, flowers -especially Kedige. Usually head of the family offers these things at a Naaga Sthana nearest to his house and the pooja vidhana is called ‘Tambila'. At a given time people from the neighbourhood assemble near the Naaga Sthana and partake in Tambila.
There are few special places in Dakshina Kannada district that includes, Kudupu Ananthapadmanabha temple (on the way to Moodbidri from Mangalore) and Kukke Subramanya temple in Sullia taluk where people throng with their families and offer poojas.