What is Rishi Panchami?
One of the most celebrated fasts (vrat) in Hinduism which falls in the month of Bhadrapada (August- September) on the fifth day of Shukla Panchami is known as Rishi Panchami. This festival falls on the next day after the auspicious festival of ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and two days after the ‘Teej of Hartalika’ according to the Lunar Calendar.
RISHI PANCHAMI KATHA
The Rishi Panchami Vrat Katha is one of the most interesting legends of history. Let us understand and learn Rishi Panchami ki Kahani and the Rishi Panchami Importance.
A long time ago, there lived a Brahmin named Uttanka in the city of Vidarbha. He lived there along with his wife Susheela and two children, a son and a daughter. As soon as his daughter grew up to be in the marriageable age, he got her married to a virtuous man. But his happiness was short-lived as, after few days of the marriage, his daughter’s husband passed away and she became a widower. His daughter returned back to her parents (Uttanka and Susheela).
Unhappy and shocked, Uttanka along with his wife, son, and widowed daughter started living on the Ghat of the Ganges in a small hut.
One night, Uttanka along with his family were sleeping peacefully when suddenly Susheela’s sleep got disturbed and she woke up. She was shocked and awestruck as she saw that the widow daughter's body was completed covered with insects. Looking at this misery, she approached her husband Uttanka and narrated the shocking incident she witnessed.
Uttanka being a virtuous Brahmin took Samadhi (state of meditation) in order to have an insight into this situation. Uttanka discovered that his daughter was born as a Brahmani even in her previous birth and was married to a Brahmin. In her previous life, Uttanka’s daughter was menstruating and had touched the utensil and continued doing all the household chores. According to the Vedic texts, coming in contact with anything or person during the menstruating cycle is a sin, a woman must avoid doing. This sin is known as Rajaswala dosha.
In order to wash away this sin and to stay protected, healthy, and fit, the Rishi Panchami is observed. Uttanka through his Samadhi also learned that his daughter had not observed fast or performed the Rishi Panchami Puja even in her present life. Hence, she was punished with insects all over her body due to the sin committed in the previous and present life.
According to the Holy Scriptures, a woman who is menstruating is impure like Chandalini on the first day of her menstruating cycle; she is like the Brahmaghatini on the second day of the cycle and impure like a Dhobin on the third day of her menstrual cycle. It is believed that on the fourth day of the menstrual cycle the woman should purify her body by bathing and observing the Rishi Panchami fast. By doing so, it is said that all her sorrows will go away and in the next life, she will be blessed with good fortune.
Uttanka told his daughter to observe Rishi Panchami Vrat and perform Rishi Panchami Puja. As instructed by father Uttanka, his daughter duly observed Sama Pancham Vrat and performed the Rishi Panchami Puja. As soon as she wholeheartedly performed all the rituals as instructed, she got freed from the sins committed in the past life and all her sorrows ended.
Rituals to be performed on Rishi Panchami
The rituals and customs dedicated to Rishi Panchami must be performed with a pure heart and good intentions. A person's intentions play a vital role in the purification of his soul. Devotees have to wake up early morning and take a bath as soon as they wake up. A fast is observed on the day of Rishi Panchami. The one and only purpose of Rishi Panchami is to sanctify a person completely. Therefore, people do many things such as cleaning of teeth with upmarga (herb) and bathing with datwan herb. These herbs are very pure and are considered to leave the body extremely clean. Herbs are used for outer purification, whereas a mixture of curd, milk, basil, and butter is drunk to purify the soul. Worshipping the seven great sages, or Sapt Rishis, forms the concluding part of the rituals performed. The prayers are offered in order to invoke the presence of the seven sages, with different offerings like food and flowers being offered. The names of those seven sages are as follows: Kashyapa, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra, Gauthama, Jamadagmi, and Vashishtha.
The Purpose Of Fasting On Rishi Panchami
As per the Hindu tradition, women who are experiencing menstruation or period (the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina) are forbidden to undertake religious activities or involve themselves in domestic works (including kitchen work) till they are in that state. They are even prohibited to touch things related to religion. If this requirement has been breached by mistake or due to other reasons, it leads to Rajaswala Dosha among the women who have violated this norm. Women fast on Rishi Panchami to get rid of this dosh.
Rishi Panchami is also known as Bhai Panchami. Sisters tie rakhis to brothers on this day in the Maheshwari community. Sisters fast on this day and pray for their brother's long life. They consume food only after performing the puja.