Manasa : The Snake Goddess
The snake goddess Maa Manasa Devi, is worshipped by Hindus, mainly for the prevention and cure of snakebites and infectious diseases like smallpox and chicken pox as well as for prosperity and fertility. She stands for both ‘destruction’ and ‘regeneration’, almost akin to a snake shedding its skin and being reborn.
A GRACEFUL GODDESS
The idol of the goddess is depicted as a graceful lady with her body, adorned with snakes and sitting on a lotus or standing on a snake, under a hooded canopy of seven cobras.
MYTHOLOGICAL LINEAGE OF MANASA
Also known as ‘Nagini,’ the female serpentine avatar or ‘Vishahara,’ the goddess who annihilates poison, Manasa, in the Hindu mythology, is believed to be the daughter of sage Kasyapa and Kadru, the sister of the serpent-king Sesha. She is the sister of Vasuki, king of Nagas and wife of sage Jagatkaru. A simplified version of the myth regards Manasa as the daughter of Lord Shiva. Legends have it that she was rejected by her father Shiva and husband Jagatkru, and hated by her stepmother, Chandi, who scooped out one of Manasa’s eyes. So, she appears to be foul-tempered, and benevolent only towards her devotees.
MANASA, A POWERFUL DEMIGODDESS
Manasa, due to her mixed parentage, is denied full godhead. Ancient Hindu legends in the Puranas, narrate the story of the birth of this powerful serpentine goddess.
MANASA PUJA, WORSHIP OF THE SERPENTINE GODDESS
During the monsoon season, Goddess Manasa is worshipped, mainly in the eastern Indian states of Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, and Orissa, throughout the months of June, July and August (Ashar – Shravan), a time when the snakes leave their nesting ground and come out into the open and become active.