Varanasi's 'Nag Nathiya' Festival Spread Awareness About Water Pollution

by Dr. Sunil Shroff on Nov 16 2007 1:03 PM

People in Varanasi were made aware about water pollution affecting the holy River Ganges on Wednesday, as the holy city marked “Nag Nathaiya”, the over 400 years old festival here.

Apart from the religious aspects, the prime purpose of performing “Nag Nathaiya” was to highlight the rising pollution in River Ganges.

It is said that that many decades ago, the organisers of “Krishna Leela” and “Nag Nathaiya” festival had a sort of premonition about the deterioration which the River Ganga may have to endure.

According to Prof. Kaushal Kishore Mishra of Benaras Hindu University (BHU) said that the Nag Nathaiya festival has been spreading awareness about the problem which they might face due to contamination, if not checked on time.

"The condition of Ganges is deteriorating day by day. This “Nag Nathaiya” based on Krishna Leela is basically meant for this purpose in contemporary scenario, said Prof. Kaushal Kishore Mishra.

Enactment of “Nag Nathaiya”--depicting the taming of the dark and venomous cobra with several hoods by Lord Krishna--was the event’s hallmark.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna accidentally threw a ball in the River Ganges while playing with his friends. To retrieve the ball, he dived into the river and fought with “Kala”, the dark cobra that had created havoc in the neighbourhood.

Krishna ultimately defeated the ferocious cobra and danced on its hoods denoting his superiority over the serpent. The entire episode has since then been named as “Nag Nathaiya” and marked as a festival by devotees.

Thousands of devotees led by the priests performed rituals and witnessed the enactment of “Nag Nathaiya”. The common belief is that devotees’ wishes are fulfilled on this particular day and hence the mass participation of public.

"Since childhood, I am visiting this festival. I have seen wishes of people coming true here. And since then my faith has further deepened," said Ashok Pandey, a devotee.