Naga Chaturthi is a traditional Hindu festival that invokes the snake Gods. Naga means snake, and Chaturthi means the fourth day of the lunar month. The Nagas, mystical and, powerful beings in the form of snakes have the power to cast or remove curses. They can have a positive or negative impact on one’s life in terms of family, health, finances, and benefits for a lifetime. Naga Chaturthi falls between mid-July and mid-August. This year, it falls on 24 July.
Mythology Associated with Naga Chaturthi
In Hinduism, the Naga Devtas or Snake Gods have been closely associated with the Gods. They hold a high status in Hindu mythology. Among the Trimurtis of Hindu religion, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer have a secure connection with the Snake gods. While Vishnu lies on the Adishesha, Shiva wears the snake around his neck. Legend has it that while the Devas and the Asuras were churning the ocean for the nectar of immortality, Vasuki became the churning rope. The Mandara mountain acted as a rod in the churning of the sea. The churning of the sea is called Samudra Manthan. Due to vigorous churning, Vasuki emitted a dangerous poison. The poisonous fumes started affecting the Devas and Asuras. Shiva held the poison in his throat, turning it blue. He saved the world and came to be known as Neelakantha.
Importance of Snakes in Human Life
Snakes play a crucial role in our lives and are known to be closely associated with Hindu culture. The snake planets, Rahu and Ketu, play a significant role in our lives. The placement of these planets is decisive in human life.
Snakes are considered sacred and celebrated in Hinduism. They are often represented in stone and worshipped. The King Cobra is associated closely with God. People revere snakes across the subcontinent. Hindus still worship snakes in temples and sacred groves. According to Hindu tradition, snakes are considered divine and represent eternity, but also material prosperity, life, and death, as well as time and timelessness. Snakes are associated with religious beliefs, rituals, myths, legends, and scriptures. They have an immense presence.
Hindu Scriptures Associated with Snakes
Hindu literature and folklore mention that snakes are divine entities. Snakes are representative of different aspects of Hinduism that include rebirth, death, immortality. Snakes symbolically shed their skin, and are reborn. They are popularly associated with Hindu Gods, including Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, and Indra, King of Devtas. Indra rides an elephant called Nagendra and controls the Naga world. The king of snakes, Vasuki, plays a crucial role in the churning of the ocean. Anantha or Adishesha is the infinite snake upon which Vishnu rests.
Snakes are treated as demi-Gods according to scriptures and are considered divine beings inhabiting the underworld, Patala. They have an enormous impact on human life. People revere snakes in Hinduism. Snakes have a pivotal presence and protect the treasures of the earth. Though they mean no harm, they can become vengeful if mistreated and disrespected. Misfortunes can happen if humans cause harm to snakes. An individual can be impacted terribly in terms of health, success, and prosperity because of this. There are various rituals to appease snakes and reduce the effects of their curses. Snakes represent death, and according to the Vedas, only Rudra or Shiva, as the healer, can rescue his worshippers from death and destruction.
Rituals Performed for Naga Chaturthi
Women observe Naga Chaturthi for the good health and longevity of their spouse and children. They offer prayers for their family’s happiness and well-being. They perform poojas too and place eggs near the snake pits. They pour milk on the idols and also into the snake pits. Unmarried women undertake fasting on this day and feed the snakes while praying for a good spouse.
Devotees sing hymns for blessings and appeasements of the snake Gods – Vasuki, Kaliya, Anantha, Shesha, among others. Ladies apply turmeric and vermilion to the idols and light incense sticks for the pooja. Then they perform Aarti and worship the Nag Devatas.
Benefits of Naga Chaturthi
Worshipping the Nagas (snakes) can reduce the impact of ill effects on one’s life. Offering prayers can remove any curse imposed on humans or ones inherited from their ancestors. People worship Rahu and Ketu (snake planets) on this day, which significantly reduces their negative influence on the birth chart. Prayers and rituals offered during Naga Chaturthi can bring blessings that will stimulate good health, well-being, progeny, wealth, and relief from illness.
The Naga Chaturthi festival is auspicious to get relief from snake afflictions caused by actions committed during previous births. Such afflictions are expressed through the snake planets Rahu and Ketu. On Naga Chaturthi, people invoke the blessings of snake Gods for the betterment of their families, children, and prosperity.
Chaturthi is very auspicious for Ganesha, the God of beginnings being the overlord of Ketu. This year, Naga Chaturthi directly connects to Ketu, where the moon transits into Uttaraphalguni, symbolizing Ganesha, the God of oneness. People worship Ganesha on Naga Chaturthi as it is more auspicious. The success or failure of Ketu will come without warning, and it signals if the association is good or bad.
Naga Chaturthi is an auspicious day to clear the affliction of Rahu and Ketu and attain remedies for it. Naga Chaturthi occurs on the fourth day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Shravan. People perform pooja for the 1,000 headed Snake God, Adishesha, which negates any negative karma in the birth chart of an individual associated with Rahu and Ketu.
Worshipping the snake king has an immediate and positive effect on one’s life. This reduces the ill effects of snake planets in one’s birth chart. Naga Chaturthi is the perfect day to ask for forgiveness for sins committed and seek relief from accumulated curses, thereby nullifying the grave impact on one’s life.