English meaning of the festival
Naag refers to snake and Panchami means fifth. Naag Panchami therefore refers to the fifth date on which snakes and Lord Shiva are revered.
How the date is decided annually
The festival of Naag Panchami is observed in the Hindu month of Shraavana during Shukla Paksha (bright half).
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
According to the Bhavishya Purana, when men bathe the snakes Vasuki, Takshaka, Kaliya, Manibhadra, Airavata, Dhritarashtra, Karkotaka and Dhananjaya with milk, on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Shraavana, they ensure freedom from danger for their families.
How to observe/practice
On this day, worshiping Lord Shiva, the holder of serpent, is considered auspicious. According to the astrology, the God of fifth date is Snake. On the day of Naag Panchami, fast is kept in order to appease the God Snake. There is a procedure of worshiping Goddess Manasaa on Naag Panchami in the month of Shraavana. Goddess Manasaa is considered as the Goddess (Devi) of serpents.