Nagapanchami – the cult of snake workship

The Naga cult Ants were dominant members of the earth’s eco system, about 100 million years ago. Though humans were not around ants made it a suitable for agriculture, drove pests away killed weeds dispersed seeds,(a change in climate altered all this.) the worship of anthills as fertility symbols is still seen in Goa and constantly referred to as Satteri. Their southern cousins, worship the snakes who occupy the ant hill once the ants move out. The symbol of rejuvenation and recycling of earth’s resources. Snakes are associated with rebirth death and mortality. This is basically because they shed their skin. In the south particularly Tulu-Malaya has a strong serpent worship cult. In places like Kupudu and subramanya live snakes are worshipped. Many families and area are linked with snake and snake worship. This could be because sacred lore has it that the Parashuramkshetra that lies to the north of mahabalikshetra(Malabar) was land claimed by parashurama from the seas. If one accidentally killed a cobra, or even saw a dead one it had to perform the final rites for it. Everyone has their own snake experience to talk of. The believe it or knots. Some important snakes from Hindu mythology: • Sheesh/ adishesha/ sheshnaga, is imagined to be a 1000 hooded snake. Lord Vishnu is believed to be reclining on him, has been the sibling of the lord in every avatar, also protected him form the thunderstorm during his postnatal journey from maturate to vrindavan. • Vasuki coiled himself round the mandara, to churn the ocean. So that the ambrosia of immortality could be extracted. • Kaliya the multihooded terror of the river Yamuna who was conquered by Vishnu • Manas the queen of snakes, the image of the universal mother, particularly for the oja- tantrics of Assam. • Ananta the endless snake who circles the world. • Padmanabha the guardian of the south • Astika the half Brahmin and half naag. Presence of snake in a dream is considered good in Hindu ethos. If the snake bites you then it is good. The snake is the also the symbol of the kundalini or the vital energy within .

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