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Garuda Panchami/Naga Panchami-Celebration of the bond between mother and son -Aug 13


Today’s tithi is Panchami and Nakshatra is Hasta and it is also the blessed day of being Garuda Panchami and Naga Panchami.As with all other traditions in hinduism the ancients cleverly made veneration of nature as the cornerstone of all rituals and there are many hidden meanings on many levels behind each tradition. Snakes have been venerated since ages with yoga equating the kundalini energy in the human body to the snake . Lord Shiva wears the snakes as his ornaments and Lord Vishnu sleeps on the Adisesha . Similarly Garuda is venerated as the Vehicle for Lord Vishnu .

Practical Reasons behind the Ritual

1.The month of Shravana when this festival occurs is the time of peak monsoon in tropical India.The primary occupation of most Indians was in some way linked to agriculture and people resided in villages. Snakes typically tend to move about a lot during the peak monsoon time. To avoid killing these beneficial creatures which play a huge role in controlling rat populations and to avoid the negative karma .Farmers would stop tilling their lands also for few days.

2.This day is also a celebration of  the affection between a  mother and son as you will see in Garuda’s story.

Spiritual Reasons behind the Ritual

1.The two shadow grahas in astrology (Rahu and Ketu ) are often represented as snakes .Rahu and Ketu the nodes are formed by the intersection of the axis of rotation of the moon and the earth . They have a huge influence on the mind and is referred to as eclipse of the mind (represented by the moon ) . For one to achieve moksha ,one has to first establish himself properly in his mind. Naga Panchami puja helps one to do that.

2.Snakes are representative of the Kundalini energy and Lord Subramanya is also worshipped in the form of a snake !!! Even though Lord Subramanya has the peacock as his Vehicle. Where there is light there is darkness as well. The world is an interplay of dualities and the imagery behind this contains the secret to this duality. Similarly the imagery of Garuda and the Nagas. As you will see later both are brothers in the story .

3.Killing a snake is a very huge karma just as killing a cow is a very huge Karma.  A cow is very similar in its behaviour to a human being , it does not mate indiscriminately and is very gentle by nature . Its dung is used as fertilizer in the farms , gives us milk and butter and a lot of other things . To kill a being which is very close to a human being will let loose curses from the dying animal which will in turn cause blockages for future births.  A snake on the other hand is very vengeful by its very nature and when such an animal is killed it dies with vengeance on its mind which unfortunately will give birth to a vengeful human being in later births.

Actually there are two parallel stories and I cannot do justice to both of them in a single post….will post them as two separate posts.One is a moving tale of a son’s fight for his mother’s release and the other is a struggle of a son to release his ancestors.

Story of Garuda and the Nagas  (Source Mahabharata : Adi Parva, Upa-parva: Astika Parva, Chapter 16)

Story of Jaratkaru and Manasa Devi (Source Mahabharata : Adi Parva, Upa-parva: Astika Parva, Chapter 16)

Garuda statute Belur

Goddess of the Snakes-Manasa Devi

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