Nag Panchami: Snakes, Sex, and Semen

Joseph S. Alter

in The Wrestler's Body

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076976
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912175 | DOI:
Nag Panchami: Snakes, Sex, and Semen

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Nag Panchami (Snake's [Cobra's] Fifth) is a minor festival celebrated throughout North India in the latter half of July on the fifth day of the light half of the Hindu month Shravan. As the name implies, Nag Panchami is a festival in honor of snakes. Gurus are honored, patrons are recognized, and wrestlers demonstrate their skill and strength before crowds of people. It is said that even people who are not usually interested in wrestling take this opportunity to get involved. Although most people get involved only as spectators, at many akharas the pit is turned into a public arena where anyone may challenge anyone else regardless of whether they know how to wrestle or not. The chapter offers an interpretation of the symbolic structure of wrestling as a way of life, since wrestlers are seriously preoccupied with their sexuality.

Keywords: Nag Panchami; snakes; North India; Shravan; gurus; patrons; wrestlers; wrestling; akharas; sexuality

Chapter.  13504 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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