I have seen a lot of times in temples that priests offer milk to snake idols.

What is the reason behind it? Do snakes really drink milk?

  • When the snakes are hungry they come out in search of food, snake used to kill human when snakes are disturbed/threatened. Hindu's does not kill the snakes because they believe that snake's are there gods. So that when they give milk,small animals are attract to the milk so that when the snake come out for food it will catches the small animals and it go back. So that snakes will not come out in search of foods and all the people remain safe. So that we misunderstanding that we are feeding milk to snake but it is the trap for small animals which the snakes eat... Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 17:52
  • @DineshKumar Give scriptural references of what you said
    – user9392
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


There are many folk tale behind the drinking of the milk, the famous one is :-;

A tale of a farmer living in a village. He had two sons and one of whom killed three snakes during ploughing operations. The mother of the snake took revenge on the same night by biting the farmer, his wife and two children and they all died. Next day the farmer’s only surviving daughter, distraught and grieved by the death of her parents and brothers, pleaded before the mother snake with an offering of a bowl of milk and requested for forgiveness and to restore the life of her parents and brothers. Pleased with this offering the snake pardoned them and restored the farmer and his family to life

Reference : Wiki

Coming to your second question which says "Do snakes really drink milk?" and the answer is Snakes don't drink milk

Now I know people over here go and make the snake drink milk on Nag Panchami but the fact is that snakes don't drink the milk. Even if they do, they are not able to digest it and eventually they die.

Milk is for mammals and not reptiles. What the snakes charmers do is that they don't provide food and water to snakes for a day or two before the Nag Panchami, and hence, inorder to quench the thirst and hunger, snakes drink the milk and they die later.

So I ain't sure if anyone still believes that the snakes really drink but I would suggest not to do so, you are taking someones life.

If you truly want to worship Nag Deva (Snake god) than pour milk and offer your food to idols and not the real snakes.


Varaha Purana suggests to bathe the images of Naga in milk on Naga Panchami and it doesn't mention anything about feeding milk to snakes.

  1. If one remains austere on that day, give us all that is sour in food and bathes the images of Nagas in milk, they become friendly towards him.

Nagas were sent to Patala on Panchama tithi and people celebrate that tithi as Naga Panchami.

Snakes which are present now on Earth do not drink milk but i'm not sure about divine snakes such as Adisesha (serpent on which Lord Vishnu sleeps) and Vasuki (Lord Shiva's snake).

  • 3
    Good explanation about why we celebrate Nag-Panchami.very informative. Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 7:54
  • 2
    "the images" is actually in parentheses in the original text, isn't so, which means the translators put it there like that. Then you should probably quote them the same way. That might explain why people took it literally and try to do it feed or bathe real snakes. Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 18:38
  • @sv. Actually i couldn't get Sanskrit version of Varaha Purana to chech the verses. I will update once i get it. But i think Bathing Nagas is same as bathing images of Nagas.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 6:58

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