Manasa, also Manasa Devi, is a goddess of snakes, worshipped mainly in Bengal and other parts of northeastern India.  She is also known as Vishahara (the destroyer of poison), Nityā (eternal) and Padmavati.

She is worshiped for protection from and cure of snake bites and infectious diseases like smallpox and chicken pox., as well as for fertility and prosperity.

Myths and Legends

Her myths emphasize her bad temper and unhappiness, due to rejection by her father and her husband, and the hate of her stepmother, Chandi (Shiva's wife, identified with Parvati in this context).

Manasa is depicted as being kind to her devotees, but harsh to people who refused to worship her. Denied full godhead by her mixed parentage, Manasa's aim was to fully establish her authority as a goddess and to acquire steadfast human devotees.

Appearance

Generally, Manasa is worshiped without an image. A branch of a tree, an earthen pot or an earthen snake image is worshiped as the goddess, though images of Manasa are worshiped too.

Family

Manasa is the mother of Astika, sister of Vasuki (king of Nāgas/snakes) and wife of sage Jaratkaru (Jagatkaru). Her father is Shiva, though in some scriptures, sage Kashyapa is considered to be her father instead.

Modern Depictions

Manasa is ceremonially worshiped on Nag Panchami - a festival of snake worship in the Hindu month of Shravan (July–August). Bengali women observe a fast (vrata) on this day and offer milk at snake holes.


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