RISHI PANCHAMI- HINDU RITUAL
Rishi Panchami is a Hindu religion that is given great respect and followed by many Hindu people.it is also known as Rushi Panchami. Rishi Panchami is the fifth day, the very next day after Ganesh Chaturthi, the day in Bhadra pad month of the lunar calendar. Rishi Panchami is not celebrated as a festival, but it is a fasting day in which Hindus worship “Sapta Rishis” for getting rid of their past sins. Sapta rishis basically mean 7 sages which include- Kashyap, Atri, Vishwamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Bharadhvaja, and Vasishta.
In some parts of Kerala, the day is also celebrated as Vishwakarma Puja. Rishi Panchami is also celebrated as Raksha Bandhan or “Rakhi festival” by some Dadhich Brahmins and also Agrawal and Maheshwari communities of Rajasthan. Sisters tie “Rakhi” and both brothers and sisters pray for the well-being of each other and promise to protect each other.
On Rishi Panchami, a ritual bath is taken in holy rivers, ponds, or in other water bodies. Lord Ganesh, Navagraha (nine planetary Gods), Saptarshis (seven Sages), and Arundhati are worshipped on this day. The women offer ‘Prasad’ to Gods and wash their husband’s feet.
Rishi Panchami is mainly observed by women as a fasting day in which they pay obeisance to the Sapta Rishi for getting purified from Rajaswala Dosha. In this “Varta”, the people express respect, gratitude, and remembrance of the great deeds of those ancient rishis, who devoted their lives to the welfare of society. The fast is to be observed by women.
Hindus believe that women become dirty during the menstrual cycle. They maintain strict rules for women during the menstrual cycle. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen for cooking, cannot touch sofas or bed as well as do not participate in any religious activity.
Why Rishi Panchami Celebrated?
The festival of Rishi Panchami is celebrated in memory of great Indian Saptarishis. The word Panchami represents not only the fifth day but also the sages. The Saptarishis had also sacrificed their lives to eliminate evil from this land. In India, this festival is celebrated with great respect. It was believed that those women who have their menstruation cycle on and if they have done something wrong- either to touch bed or kitchen, have to fast on this day so that their sins get washed off.
This statement is also popular about the Saptarishis who always worked for the happiness and prosperity of human life. They acted against injustice. It is also believed that the sages used to educate their disciples in a very proper way, due to their knowledge and wisdom. Taking inspiration from them, any human can easily walk on the path of charity, humanity, and knowledge.
Reason Behind Rishi Panchami Vrat:
Once upon a time in the ‘Vidarbha ’state, the Brahmin named Uttak used to live with his wife. They had a son and a daughter in their family. Brahmin made his daughter marry a good and reputed Brahmin family. But as time passed, the husband of the girl got premature death; and she became a widow and after that, she came back to her father’s house. Suddenly on somedays, the girl got worms/insects over her entire body. After noticing her infected body; they got distressed by the grief and took her daughter to Rishi to know what had happened to their daughter.
Uttak told the whole story to Rishi; what happened and what things they did to make her well. He told everything about her past life. Rishi had a talk to her parents about the description of the girl’s earlier birth. And said that the girl was a Brahmin in the previous birth. She had touched the house, utensils, etc., even after having her menstruation period (Rajaswala Dosha). Because of this unintentionally done sin, she got the worms on her full body.
According to the ancient scriptures; A girl or a lady is on her menstrual periods should not be part of the Puja. But she did not pay attention to this and anyhow she was punished. Rishi at the end gave a solution that; if this girl prays for Rishi Panchami, worships with all her hearts for puja, and asks for forgiveness with respect, she would get rid of her sins sooner. Thus, by keeping fast and worship, their daughter got free from her past sin.
On this day there is a ritual of taking a bath and putting on clean clothes. To make a square-shaped diagram using Haldi, Kumkum, and Roli at a clean place in the house. To decorate the flowers and offer flowers to the Sapta Rishi. In several regions, this puja process is done on the river bank or near a pond. Women do not eat fruits, rice, or other items after this puja, rather they consume a special type of rice on Rishi Panchami. People also eat items of “Rava” because it is to be believed that eating these food items helps to wash away sins committed intentionally or unintentionally.
MY POINT OF VIEW
India is a country that has thousands of religions, customs, traditions, and rituals followed by thousands of people. People believe that fasting on Rishi Panchami is good for women to get rid of sins during their menstrual cycle. According to me, fasting is not related to the washings away of bad deeds. Not all religion accepts to follow periods for 3 days. This menstruation is considered to be a bad thing that has made girls face many things such as not entering temples or kitchens or not attending any functions. It is to be said that in previous birth that girl has done bad things or “karma” which she has to pay in this life- in Hindi term, a girl in her periods is said to be “AASHUDH”. Practically thinking, this cycle helps to clean all our waste of the body making it clean and systematic. People believing in this tradition is not an issue but applying this reason for everyone is not valid. For instance, if one has a superstition about this ritual and believes it, she must do that but then not consider other women being in menstruation as untouchable.
Being a Jain and a follower of Jainism, I do follow periods for three days but was unaware of this ritual. If people follow it, I respect it but I don’t force or like to tell them that they should follow because it’s their personal choice and I respect it.