Sombre Yet Spirited! Hindus Gearing Up for Nagara Panchami Amidst Covid-19 Restrictions
Mangaluru: There is something about festivals that ushers in a sense of hope, even in the darkest of times. It does not matter that you’re stuck in your house, separated from friends and family, removed of your usual pleasures and restricted by fear and anxiety — it makes you want to sit back and take stock of all the privilege and comfort still at hand. That is how people in the city are looking forward to Nagara Panchami this year. From adapting to the challenging time with the help of technology to also holding on to the dear pieces of tradition in whatever form they can, the traditional feast has much in store it seems.
It is learnt that Kukke Shree Subramanya temple, Kudupu Shree Anantha Padmanabha Temple and Anantha Padmanabha temple at Manjeshwara are famous temples dedicated to Naga where Nagara Panchami is celebrated in a grand way. In Udupi, Sri Krishna Math is flocked by devotees every year on this feast day- but unfortunately, none of these temples will have any poojas/religious ceremonies, as per the restrictions imposed on religious places not to have any poojas etc, due to the pandemic. In fact, every year on Nagara Panchami day, ‘serpentine queue of devotees will be seen at various temples across the district to offer pooja to the idols of Naga and seek his blessings for the well being of the family. They offer milk, tender coconut, lavancha (Vettiver) roots, honey, turmeric and flowers to the idols of Naga. Said to be the god of fertility, several couples who do not have children, offer prayers to the Serpent God on the day, as per a Hindu priest at Kudupu Temple.
But this year, Nagara Panchami will be observed by Hindu devotees in sombre, and at home- and today (Friday, 24 July) devotees are seen buying flowers, Pingara, Tender Coconuts (especially Gendali Bonda), Milk, Marga etc. This year, Nag Panchami or Nag Panchami 2020 will be observed on Saturday, 25 July 25, and the Nag Panchami Puja Muhurat begins at 05:39 AM tomorrow, and ends at 08:22 AM on the same day. The total duration of the Nag Panchami Puja Muhurat is 2 hours and 44 minutes. The Panchami Tithi begins at 02:34 PM on July 24, 2020, and ends at 12:02 PM on July 25, 2020. Nag Panchami is celebrated on Shukla Paksha Panchami during Shravana month (July-August). Usually, Nag Panchami falls two days after Hariyali Teej. As per Hindu tradition, Panchami Tithi during Shravan month is highly auspicious to worship serpent Gods.
Women worship Nag Devta and offer milk to snakes on this day. Women also pray for the wellness of their brothers and family. It’s said that anything offered to snakes on Nag Panchami would reach to the serpent Gods. Hence, devotees worship live snakes or idols/photos of serpent Gods. Milk is offered to snakes or idols of serpent Gods, which is an age-old tradition in India. As the name suggests, the day is dedicated to the Naga Devta or the snake god. It is one of the significant days in Sawan, the auspicious month in the Hindu calendar. It is also one of the oldest festivals celebrated across India. Sawan or Shravan, in the peak rainy season, is dotted with vrats and pujas.
PINGARA ( ARECANUT LEAF/FLOWER)
Many devotees observe fast and feed the poor on this day. People offer milk to the Nag Devta or the snake god as part of the rituals. People also decorate their houses with rangolis and make kheer as prashad or offering to the god. Devotees pray to several snake gods on Nag Panchami. Some among them are Ananta, Vasuki, Shesha, Padma, Kambala and Kaliya. In Sanskrit, ‘Nag’ means snake and people worship the snake god to protect their families from evil. According to mythology, a deadly snake ‘Kalia’ had been poisoning the waters of the Yamuna, making it difficult for the brijwasis (residents of Brij in Uttar Pradesh), to drink the water. Lord Krishna (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) destroyed Kalia and the snake god was forced to take back the poison from the river. Krishna had blessed him and said, people who pray and offer milk to the snake god on Nag Panchami will always be protected from eviL.
LAVANCHA ( VETTIVER) ROOTS
GENDALI BONDA (TENDER COCONUT)
The sale of tender coconuts, especially the “Gendali” kind of Tender Coconuts (which are orange in colour) and gallons of Nandini and other brands of Milk is have a brisk business, with sellers making extra money by jacking up the prices on tender coconuts, on the eve of Hindu Feast “Nagara Panchami” (Serpent God Feast). Some of the streets are lined with street vendors selling green and yellow coloured tender coconuts- and devotees are seen buying them no matter what price the vendors are charging. Regarding the Orange Tender Coconut called as “GENDALI BONDA “locally here is used for worshiping and cooking purposes. These are grown using natural fertilizers and avoid using harmful additives that cause harm to the natural growth. Due to their purity, rich taste, high nutritional value and freshness, these are highly demanded among people spread across the globe. Gendali Coconuts are known for their juicy water which is different from the fluid inside ripened coconuts, this is a rich source of vitaminS and nutrients. Offering Milk and tender coconut juice to the serpent God is part of the ritual, and therefore this item is stocked in plenty on this day, apart from other items needed during the rituals like Milk, honey turmeric and flowers. (Ref: ‘Gendali Bondas’ (Tender Coconuts) Galore on the Eve of Hindu Feast ‘Nagara Panchami’! )
For flower, tender coconut, milk vendors, the business has been very dull this year, and since temples are closed for religious ceremony, not many devotees are buying the essentials meant for the feast. Ronny, who owns a Nandini milk shop speaking to Team Mangalorean said that last year a day before Nagara Panchami he sold almost every packet of milk, but this year not even half of his stock is sold, since no devotees were shopping for milk, since no ceremony is being held at various temples. Even at the tender coconut stall, where regular green colored render coconuts are sold for Rs 35 each, while orange colored Gendali Tender coconut are sold for Rs 45 each, Hameed, who has a shop across from Sri Venkatramana Temple-Car street said that sale of tender coconuts is low as compared to last year. “Many people are buying tender coconuts for personal use, and not to offer it to Naga, due to pandemic rules at temples. Last year, no matter what the price was, devotees were buying tender coconuts in large numbers, but this year it is just the opposite. I am okay with the sales till now, but not really happy” added Hameed.