Skip to main content

Worship of Serpent Gods in Kerala

Snakes have been worshipped since olden times especially in the state of Kerala. In olden times, the shikha of men were worn in such a way that it resembled the hood and tail of a snake. The Naga Phana Thaali of Nair ladies is a reminiscent of such snake worship.

There is an interesting legend behind the origin of worship of serpent gods in Kerala.

After the creation of Kerala, Parasurama wanted it to be populated. But the brahmins who tried to live there soon returned back as the land was quite uninhabitable due to the excess prevalence of snakes and hardness of water. Parasurama sought the advise of Lord Siva and accordingly pleased the serpent gods Vasuki and Anantha. The serpent gods informed him that if they are worshipped as guardians and protectors of the land, the problem will be solved. The serpent gods instructed the snakes to soften the water with their breaths.

It was according to Parasurama’s instruction; Sarpa Kavu was built in each courtyard of ancient households called Tharavadu and serpent gods were worshipped. The eight most important serpent gods called Ashta Nagas are Anantha, Vasuki, Thakshaka, Karkkotaka, Shankha, Gulika, Padma and Mahapadma.


  1. Nice post Raman. I will link back to this on my post on Snakes here

  2. Sorry for the delayed reply. I was away from the computer for a couple of days. Thank you very much for linking to my article. I would like to post an article about Alaivani soon. Thanks for visiting this blog.

  3. @ Raman,

    nice blog you have got here ...

    cheers !

  4. Thank you Raman, a lovely story... I have always loved snakes!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sacred Saligramam ( Saligrama )

If you ever happened to have a look inside a Vaishnavite's Pooja room, you might have had a glimpse of a black stone called Saligramam being worshipped. It is usually black in color with the symbol of sudarshana chakra. The chakras can be seen both outside and inside. The Saligrama stone is not believed to be just another stone found in the nature. It is found only at Gandaki River situated high in the Himalayas in Nepal. It is believed that the chakra symbols are formed by river worms called Vajra Keeta. It is believed that these worms drill the stones, get inside and use the stones a dwelling place.

There is a legend behind the origin of Saligramam. Once upon a time, Lord Siva was waging a war with an asura called Jallundhara. The war seemed to be between two equals and not just another war of a God with a demon. It was in fact a test of chastity of their consorts. (It is a Hindu belief that chastity of the wife protects her husband even from death) Lord Siva knew that unless th…

Namakarana - Naming ceremony

Naming a baby is a religious ceremony for the Hindus. In Kerala, usually a baby boy is named on the 27th day after birth and a girl is named on the 28th day after birth. The right day for the ceremony is defined by Gruhyasutras and there are different opinions for the same. Even these dates were to be postponed if there is any lack of religious propriety as in events like a Sankranti, Sraddha ceremony etc. On that day, the baby is given a bath and a black thread is tied around the waist. There will be a feast and distribution of sweets like "payasam". Later, either the father, uncle, grandma or the most senior person of a household whispers thrice into the right ear of the baby, his or her name for the first time.

But according to Sastras, the naming ceremony is supposed to be conducted on the 11th day or 101the day. Different kinds of pujas and homams are conducted on that day. After whispering the name three times into the ear of the baby, the person who conducts the nami…

How to do Pradakshinam (circumambulation) in a temple

All the heavenly bodies rotate on its axis as well as circumambulates around other objects like earth around the sun. It is symbolized in the Hindu custom of doing Pradakshinam around the deities in a temple or during a pooja.

Circumambulation around sanctum sanctorium in the temple or deities is called Pradakshinam (Pradakshina). It has to be done always in a clockwise manner with the deity on our right side during circumambulation.

The number of Pradakshinam that has to be done in a temple depends on the deity to whom we are offering it. According to some sources it is as follows.

1 – Ganapathy
2 – Aditya, BhadraKali
3 – Shiva
4 – Vishnu, Devi
5 – DharmaShastha
6 - Subrahmanya
7 – Durga, Banyan Tree
21 - Swayambhu

There are four different parts in a Pradakshinam. Walk one step at a time slowly, like measuring the length with our foot. Keep the hands folded like a lotus bud holding it close to the chest. Chant the names of the respective deity. Keep the thoughts fixed on God. During…