Photos: Naag Panchami and Janai Purnia at Naag Pokhari

Today, Nepalis observe two annual Hindu festivals simultaneously: Janai Purnia and Naag Panchami. The two festivals were previously observed on the same day in 1963 BS (1906 AD), 1982 BS (1923 AD), 2028 BS (1971 AD) and 2047 BS (1990 AD).

“Kathmandu was previously a lake. There are many tirthasthal [religious place] allocated and controlled by snakes,” Anil Chitrakar, a culture expert, told Onward Nepal.

“According to legends, drought takes place when the snakes leave the valley,” Chitrakar told Onward Nepal. “So here in Kathmandu valley, local prayers start by asking the snake for forgiveness for occupying their space.”

There are wet lands in Kathmandu like Thahachal, Taudaha, Nagdaha which were once homes of snakes, but now thick human settlements, he explained.

Among the several major religious sites dedicated to the serpent gods in Kathmandu valley, Naag Pokhari is one of the most prominent. It is located near the physical center of Kathmandu city, on the eastern side of the Narayanhitti Palace Museum, and considered an important heritage site.

Naag Pokhari’s annual Naag Panchami Mahotsav started today. It began with dawn prayers and rituals around 4AM. As is the recent tradition, in the afternoon the celebrations include performances by local youth groups and children. This year, the Mahotsav will continue on Saturday too.

Photos From Naag Pokhari Today:

Mandy Devsena, a nurse in her early 20s, claims she gets possessed by a serpent goddess and falls into a trance occasionally. “I got this tattoo about a year ago,” she told Onward Nepal.

Devotees offer fruits, flowers, and light incense and butter lamps at the temple in Naag Pokhari.

A devotee makes an offering of water after her prayers.

A man dressed up as the hindu god Shiva on board the rafts to go to the platform at center of Naag Pokhari.

The Naxal Youth Club organizes for rafts to ferry the public to the center of the pond to workshop at the base of the serpent structure.

A woman leads the prayers as others listen and pray.

Milk is offered to statues of snakes as part of the offerings to appease the serpent gods.