Nagara Panchami is one of my favorite festivals. It is so personal. A community festival yet allows each one to make the rituals her/his own! The open space rituals closest to Nature under Peepal trees has such a lovely feel with home cooked Thambittu- a sweet dish served as prasad. This festival is where Nature is worshipped.
This sets the tone for the celebrations for festivals in India! The best part of festivals is the folklore- amazing stories- behind it. Stories have such a beautiful way to connect with children to look forward to celebrating with extended family. For those of us from Tulunadu, the part of South India I hail from, the folklore is interesting, the rituals explained so logically! When the Divine Parashurama the creator of Tulunadu, received land from the Sea God as a gift, the land had a high content of salt & so was not good for farming.
As he was tilling the land all alone using his Divine powers, the Lord of snakes offered him help with his army and they all rolled onto the sand till they reached the sweet water located deep down. This led to the land getting tilled but the snakes hurt their skin in the process.
The land became fertile & people became prosperous as they could grow whatever they wanted. They were grateful to the snakes who were instrumental in making the land fertile. As a tribute, the first of the festive season in the auspicious month of Shravan, is observed as Nagara Panchami, a day dedicated to worship of snakes.
The rituals are in keeping with the story & in order not to hurt the snakes, we pour sweet tender coconut water, then apply the antiseptic turmeric & decorate with Kumkum. The prayers are with complete gratitude for the blessings of abundance.
I find this as such a beautiful way to connect with Nature with complete gratitude, acknowledging her kindness and unconditional love. I see this as a way of our ancestors passed on the importance of valuing our biodiversity. Snakes are feared & so people do not disturb the spaces they live. Nature thus remains an integral part of our surroundings & we find our space in her & not the other way round.
Time to go back to where we started!