Nag Panchami is an important festival among the Hindus in South Asia, especially in India and Nepal. It is celebrated by worshipping the snakes and is celebrated in the month of July. During the day, people fast a day prior to the festival, and also on the same day of the festival. They don’t eat until the evening of the day of the festival.
According to Hindu dharma, the snake represents “ego”. A person who has mastered the ego is indeed the fully realized man; the one who is victimized by the demands of ego is the hostile man. It is necessary to practice humility to concur one’s ego. Thus, worshipping the snake is to practice humility so that the humility then becomes the part of his/her consciousness. The dharma says that egoism, or ahankar, or vanity is one of the five obstacles to internal realization. The ego is basically a part of the subtle mental layer, while the subtle body consists of mind, intellect, and ego.
Ego is a part of life as there is no life without ego. But the abnormal exaggeration of the ego faculty is known as vanity or egotism, and that is nothing but a mistake of the intellect and can be as deadly as cancer.
What ego does is it blocks the path of truthfulness. It barricades people from accepting new things. The normal tendency falls such as “I am the only one who is right and anybody who opposes me, I have the right to destroy him.”
Ego works with anger and the egoistic person only wants to defend his/her own rights. A person who advertises his own virtues by pointing out the faults of others is the egoistic person. He is more likely to impose his/her own opinion just because it is his/her own opinion, even if it means that he is at fault. They also tend to interfere while others are talking just to make their point and want everyone to know what kind of charity they have done.
To control this ego, humility is the practice. Humility can come with different actions: respecting everyone, calling everyone with respect, bowing, taking blessings from teachers, asking for forgiveness, showing appreciation, and having the same thought in mind, speech and action.
Nag Panchami is celebrated during the Chaturmas. Chaturmas is supposedly the period of the negative state of mind. And getting egoistic in this time is common. In other words, the ego of the person is at its peak during this season.
The Sheshnag protecting Krishna at birth also depicts the snake of the Hindu stories. There are other indications: Lord Shiva with a snake on his neck, which depicts the control of the duality of mind and ego; Lord Vishnu sleeping with the snake with inward mouth protecting him, the inward mouth depicts that the ego should be under one’s control, and directed inwards.
Thus, worshipping snakes is like teaching humility to yourself. Not giving into your ego, but rather controlling it.