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The country,India is the land of Rishis and Sages.The country is so highly influenced by the rich and
enlightening knowledge of the Rishis and their teachings that even as on today the people follow their precious advise and succeed in leading a life of piety, virtue and righteousness. This Vrat is especially for the women,however,there is no distinction between men and women in the eyes of the Rishis. Everything for them is the manifestation of their own infinite Self.This festival is meant for all those who are ignorant of their ownself.
The panchami is the fifth day,the next day after Chaturthi day.So Rishi Panchami falls on the next day to Ganesh Chaturthi.This is a day of 'Vrata' ie a fast.The tradition of observing this Vrata,is to express respect,gratitude and remembrance of the great deeds of those ancient Rishis, who devoted their life for the welfare of the society.However, the real worship of the Rishis and Munis lies in obeying and complying with their commandments.
The four vedas which is the rich tradition of Hindu culture are- Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharva veda.They were written by the rishis and the work was in progress for almost 500 years.
For that one can remember the Rishis like - Atri,Kashyap, Bharadwaj, Gautam.Vishwamitra,Janadagni and Vashishtha.Near the North Pole there are seven 'Nakshatras', which are popularly known as 'Saptarshi'. They are called so, purposely to remember permanently the names of the Rishis.
This fast is to be observed by women.It is beleived that any ill deeds which the women might have committed and the mistakes done, can be pardoned by doing this Vrata.Any woman who has violated the rules ordained by the scriptures in regards to the days of menstruation or unknowingly had darshan of a Rishi during menstrual periods, thereby committing an act of sacrilege, should observe this fast for washing away of that sin, thus seeking forgiveness.
On Rishi Panchami,a ritual bath is taken in holy rivers,ponds or in other water masses.Hands and mouth is washed 108 times. Lord Ganesh, Navagraha( nine planetary Gods), Saptarshis (seven Sages) and Arundathi are worshipped.Women offer the 'Prasad' to Gods and wash husbands' feet.
Then,women again perform sacred bath and rub the special red mud for several times on different parts of the body.They sprinkle water over head and brush the teeth for 360 times with Dantiwan, a sacred plan.By taking one more ritual bath in sacred water,devotees feel blessed that their all sins are cleansed away.
The women perform the pooja in the month of Shravan and garland the Goddess,made up of Aghoda and Durva leaves.In some places the face of the Goddess is placed on the bunch of Aghada leaves.
Nowdays this Vrata is not seen being observed,but in the olden time, the women used to visit river or pond in the afternoon,by taking cow dung with them, clean their teeth with medicinal herbal stick(like Aghada plant).'Aghada' is one such plant, which has many medicinal uses.
This is grown in the months of Ashadha and Shravan months.In Bhadrapada it becomes full-fledged and its medicinal instincts are prominently noticed in the same month.Then cold-water bath was taken and later, the idol of Saptarshi on small wooden platform in the form of seven bettle nuts was placed and pooja was performed.
The devotee used to eat only those fruits,which grow below the ground and avoided the food,prepared from the grains grown from the toiling of bullocks.
The Jains regard this,as a very important day.In Jains the followers of Shwetambar cult,end their Parjushan Maha Parva on this day and the others following Digambar cult, start their Maha Parva from this day.
'Hrishabhadeva' was the first and the most sacred Teerthankar as per the Jains,who is also known as Aadinath. 'Rishi Panchami' day is observed in the name of Aadinath.The Hindus and the Jains have the same feeling and motive behind observing this Vrat of Rishi Panchami.
Rushi Panchami Vratha katha is mentioned in several scriptures as a conversation between Lord Brahma and the king Sitasale.King Sitasale asked Lord Brahma,about a fast or Vrata which would provide him a quick result.Lord Brahma told him the importance and the significance of Rishi Panchami vrat.
Lord Brahma narrated the legend of a generous Brahmin called Uttank,who lived with his wife Sushila in Vidharba.Wife Sushila was very much dedicated to her husband.The devoted couple had a son and a daughter.Their daughter got married to a young man but he died shortly after the marriage.Later,the parents constructed a cottage on the bank of the holy river Ganga and lived in it with the widow daughter.
One day while sleeping in the cottage,the daughter's body was seen covered with the ants.The parents were frightened and soon called the Brahmins.The Brahmins performed perticular rituals and confirmed tha, in her previous birth,she had entered into the kitchen on the day of menstruation.
The Brahmins told them about the significance and puja procedure of Rushi Panchami Rajaswala Vrat and asked them to perform the vrata to get rid of the bad effects of the daughters mistake in her previous birth.Uttank and Sushila made their daughter to perform Rishi Panchami puja and freed her from the rajasvala dosha of her previous birth.