Nagula Chavithi is the day people in Andhra Pradesh worship Nagas or snakes. This festival falls on the fifth day after Naraka Chaturdashi (This year Nagula Chavithi is on October 27, 2014November 15, 2015November 3, 2016). On this day, in my home, we fast through the day; worship nagas; offer naivedyam of Vada Pappu, Chalimidi, Chimmili, Panakam, bananas, and milk; and eat at night after the Mangala Aarathi. The only food we eat is that offered as naivedyam.
Traditionally, women visit the nearest pamula putta or snake pit to pray to the snake god. If a pammula putta is not accessible (as is the case in Mumbai), we make an idol of the snake god with wheat flour and offer prayers to this idol. On the next day, this idol of the snake god is either immersed in a water body or left on a tree as a symbolic way of returning him to nature.
Now that Deepavali is over, it is time to think of Nagula Chavithi, which falls on the fourth day after Deepavali. This is a day when women in Andhra fast and pray to serpents/snakes. Legend has it that when Lord Shiva swallowed the poison from the Sagara Manthanam, a few drops spilled over. The Nagula Chavithi, Panchami, and Sashti poojas are performed to alleviate the ill effects of this poison. On this day, we typically eat only milk, fruits, and two naivedyam items called Chimmili and Chalimidi.
Chimmili (also called Nuvvula Undalu) is a simple laddoo made from nuvvulu (sesame/til) and jaggery. It is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. I guess this makes it the ideal food for someone on a fast!
Unpolished Nuvvulu/Sesame/Til – 1 Cup
Bellam/Jaggery/Gur – 1/2 Cup
Neyyi/Clarified Butter/Ghee – 1/2 tsp
In a mixer, crush the nuvvulu by giving it a whirl for about 5-10 seconds at low speeds.
Add the grated jaggery and grind for about 1-2 minutes till the nuvvulu and jaggery are well-mixed.
Grease palm with ghee and make lemon-sized laddoos.