India, a land where greatest of scriptures were written; a land where science of Yoga and spirituality took birth. India is a hub of art, culture and rich history. India is a land where Gurus (teachers) are worshipped; where many people realised their true self and were enlightened.
A guru teaches us what is right and wrong, and moulds the shape of our lives. According to our ancient scriptures, a guru is a medium to attain Nirvana. With the blessings of guru, one can attain eternal peace and happiness. We live in ignorance unless a guru shows us the real path and makes us realize the worth of this life, soul and the universal powers.
In Hinduism, many Rishis (sages) have found holy place in mythology and Hindu culture. Rishis are believed to be detached from this world and they consider every living being as the manifestation of their own infinite self. They connect to supreme powers by abandoning all the worldly pleasures and leading a life replete with simplicity and superior motives. Rishi Panchami is celebrated to honour Sapta Rishis (Seven sages) – Vashishta, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bhardwaj, Atri, Gautam, Kashyap- who blessed us with their knowledge and teachings.
Rishi Panchami falls on Panchami (fifth day) of Shukla Paksha (Waxing Moon period) in the month of Bhadrapada as per the Hindu calendar.
Rishi panchami is celebrated in various parts of India and Nepal. It is mainly celebrated by women who also keep fast on this day. They strictly follow falaahar (fruits) diet and cannot eat anything made of grain. There is also a ritual for women to take a holy bath in a river, pond or any other water body. It is considered auspicious to wash one’s mouth and hands 108 times, using Datiwan herb. Many cultures, many rituals! On Rishi Panchami, some people visit Lord Shiva temples whereas some worship Lord Ganesha, Nava Graha (Nine planetary Gods), Sapta Rishi and Arundhati. But the objective of the festival remains same- to give respect to Rishis and Munis and honour their contribution to the society at large.
It is explained in ‘Hemadri Khanda’ of the ‘Bhavishyottar Purana’ that a Brahmin called Sumitra and his wife, Jayashri lived a simple life and followed all the rules of healthy living and self-restraint. However, Jayashri never paid heed to not cook during her monthly menstrual cycles. This led to a lot of sufferings in their next birth. They got emancipated only when their children observed fast and worshipped Sapt Rishi and Arundhati (wife of Maharshi Vashishta). Since then, it is believed that observing fast on Rishi Panchami releases devotees from their sins committed in the past.
Rituals and Celebrations
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