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कहानियाँ Kahaniyan of South Asia

Sheshnaaga can be found on Level 5 in the Inspired by Nature gallery at the National Museum of Scotland. 

Worshipping Sheshnaaga the serpent God

Sheshnaaga or Sheshna (Sanskrit: शेषनाग) is a serpentine demi-god (naga) and Nagaraja (king of all serpents), as well as a primordial being of creation in Hinduism.

Figure of a seven-headed Sheshnaaga in cast and chased brass.

Figure of a seven-headed Sheshnaaga in cast and chased brass, South Asia, India (A.1909.571).

Two members of NKS discuss the symbolism of Sheshnaaga infront of the object case.

NKS discuss the symbolism and significance of the serpent god Sheshnaaga. ©@NeilHannaPhotography

The simplest way to describe Sheshna’s form in words is gargantuan and colossal. Sometimes he is depicted as a five-headed serpent, or a seven-headed serpent or a ten-headed serpent. However, he is more like one thousand-headed, or five-thousand-headed, or even a million-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown.

Sheshna has been worshiped throughout ages and time.  

Today, in popular culture we find his form depicted in the Palliyodam, a type of snake boat that is used for the annual water processions in the state of Kerala.

Palliyodams on the water with red banners on the bow.

Palliyodam or snake boat being used during a festival. ©Wikimedia Commons

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