A land of rich culture and heritage, Nepal and India are countries that celebrate events that have occurred in the part and are an integral part of the rich Indian culture. These events may be anything like the good deeds, birth anniversaries and even incidences that teach us life lessons. In order to celebrate and keep our generations rooted and close to the culture even today these events are remembered and celebrated in form of festivals.
The festival that is celebrated to acknowledge and to pay respect to the seven sages is also referred to as the ‘Rishis’ or the ‘Saptarishi’. This festival is known as the ‘Rishi Panchami’.
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.
WHY IS RISHI PANCHAMI CELEBRATED?
Rishi Panchami is the festival that is celebrated to honor the great deeds of Saptarishi who were the ancient sages. The word ‘Sapta’ means seven and the word ‘Rishi’ means sage thus, the word ‘Saptarishi’ literally translates to Seven Sages. During this festival of Rishi Panchami, people engage in the traditional worship of Sapta Rishi (Seven Sages) namely Kashyapa, Atri, Bharadhvaja, Vishvamitra, Gauthama, Jamadagni and Vashishta. Women observe fast known as ‘Rishi Panchami Vrat’ or ‘Sama Panchami Vrat’ on this day to express gratitude, respect and to celebrate the good deeds of this Maha purush or sages who devoted their lives for the betterment, welfare of the society.
WHEN IS RISHI PANCHAMI?
This year the Rishi Panchami falls on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Rishi Panchami Puja Muhurat - 11:21 AM to 01:49 PM Duration -02 Hours 28 Mins Panchami Tithi Begins -09:57 PM on Sep 10, 2021 Panchami Tithi Ends - 07:37 PM on Sep 11, 2021
RISHI PANCHAMI KATHA:
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's 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
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.
RISHI PANCHAMI PUJA VIDHI
The Rishi Panchami Puja is observed by married women. Let us take a look how to perform the Puja Vidhi On the day of Rishi Panchami get up early in the morning. Take bath and cleanse yourself It is said to be fruitful if you take ritual bath in the holy rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari etc. Bathing with a mixture of curd, milk, basil and butter also can be used as it detoxifies the body and purifies the soul. Wear clean clothes and now sprinkle holy waters on the head and around the house on the day of Rishi Panchami. Observe fast for the whole day. Worship Lord Ganesha, Saptarshis (seven Sages) and Arundathi are worshipped. Women offer the 'Prasad' to Gods and wash husbands' feet. by chanting mantras and offering Durva grass and sweets to Him in the morning. This day becomes more auspicious when it starts with prayers offered to Lord Ganesha who cuts the knots of sins and removes all the obstacles from your path.
WHAT TO EAT IN RISHI PANCHAMI VRAT?
In ancient times the devotees consumed fruits that grew underground and avoided the food prepared from the grains that were grown by plowing the soul by toiling the bullocks. The Jains regard Rishi Panchami as a very significant day. There are two sects in Jainism, the people belonging to the Shwetambar cult celebrate this day as the end of their Parjushan Maha Parva while the people following the Digambar cult, celebrate this day as the beginning of their Maha Parva. In Maharashtra on the auspicious occasion of Rishi Panchami, a special dish is cooked. It is called the Rishi Panchami bhaji. This delicacy is prepared by cooking seasonal vegetables together. Usually while preparing this sabji or bhaji the seasonal vegetables along with tubers are used. Even today, the devotees consume fruits that grow underground and avoid the food prepared from the grains that are grown by plowing the soul by toiling the bullocks. The Rishi Panchami bhaji is cooked in a way the rishis use to cook, simple and without spices. On the tithe of Rishi Panchami, people observe fast and generally consume the “Rishi Panchami Bhaji” while opening the vrat.
Thus, the Rishi Panchami is an auspicious day where the selfless hard work of the sages is acknowledged and the saints are revered and worshipped by the devotees. It is a day that allows us to cleanse our mind, body and soul of all the impurities while strengthening our digestive system through fasting for the entire day. Also, while breaking the fast the food that is consumed is light and easily digestible. It is cooked with no spices or little spices and very little oil.