Rishi Panchami is celebrated on the 5th day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. This is the next day after Ganesh Chaturthi. Rishi Panchami is dedicated to the seven rishis. The seven sages are remembered on this day.
The Seven Sages
These sages are Kashyapa, Atri, Bharadhvaja, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Vashishta. This is the day when people remember and thank the sages who have worked so hard for the welfare of mankind and society.
Rituals on Rishi Panchami
On this day women will observe a fast. In some parts of India like Rajasthan sisters tie a sacred thread on the wrist of their brothers and sisters. The brothers and sisters pray for each other’s well being and give the promise to protect each other from all evil. In Maharashtra, a special curry is prepared using different vegetables. This is known as the Rishi bhaji and this is offered as Prasad.
On the day of Rishi Panchami, a small square is made using haldi and kumkum. The image of the sapta rishis is placed in this square. Then water and panchamrut are put on this image. Flowers, chandan, haldi kumkum is put on the image. Prasad is offered. Lamp is lit and dhoop is also offered to the image. Once the pooja is completed the Prasad is distributed among the devotees.
It is said that women who observe a fast on this day will get rid of the troubles and problems that they may be facing. According to legend the widowed daughter of Brahmin couple was infested with worms. She was asked to observe a fast on the day of Rishi Pancham. The daughter observed this fast and she got freedom from the worm infestation on her body. Thus this is a special day for the women. By fasting, they can easily overcome obstacles and it is believed that it will also help them get respite from the sins that they may have committed in their past lives.
The seven sages have very high importance in Hindus. This is the day when these powerful and noble seven rishis are worshipped. Praying on this day surely helps one get rid of problems.
Legend of Rishi Panchami
Once there lived a couple named Sumitra and Jayashri. The husband was a great scholar. Jayashri knowingly neglected and violated the disciplines prescribed during the menstrual cycles and engaged in normal activities the life long. Though a scholar, her husband never advised her and tried to correct her. As a result of this sin, the husband was born as an ox and the wife a prostitute in their next births.
They had a son and daughter-in-law named Sumati and Chandrawali. The ox and the prostitute stayed in the backyard of their son’s house. Due to several merits they earned during their lives, they were very much aware of their past birth and used to discuss about their fate now and then. They were often lamenting on the miserable fate they succumbed to due to the neglect of menstrual period disciplines. Chandrawali once overheard the conversation between the prostitute and the ox and was surprised to know all that had happened.
Chandrawali reported the matter to her husband Sumati. Sumati felt bad about the miserable fate suffered by his parents and therefore wanted to save them from the grave sin they accumulated. In consultation with a rishi, he performed the Rishi Panchami Vrat with his wife and earned great merits out of the vrat. He passed on the merits of the vrat to benefit his parents. Due to this, Sumitra and Jayashri were relieved from their sins in the next birth.