The Sanskrit word ‘Rishi’ means the spiritual leader, Sadhu, Sage, Seer, especially with mastery over the ancient sacred hymns from the prehistoric Vedic times. The number five is called ‘Pancha’ in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word ‘Panchami’ means the 5th day of the Paksha. Paksha is the lunar, moon’s fortnight. It is best reflected in a Hindu Lunar calendar, Panchang.
Rishi Panchami is also called Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami.
Rishi Panchami in 2018 falls on the 14th of September, Friday. It is observed mainly in India and Nepal. The date of Rishi Panchami is determined as per the Hindu lunar calendar. It is observed on the 5th day, Tithi, of the Shukla Paksha. Shukla Paksha is the rising-waxing phase of the moon in the fortnight. Rishi Panchami falls in the Gregorian month of September. It is observed in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. Rishi Panchami comes the day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and two days after the event Hartalika Teej.
Rishi Panchami is observed mainly in remembrance, the honor of the ancient and to the current day Sages of India and Nepal, especially the primeval seven principal Rishis called Sapta Rishis. Many natives, essentially women observe Vrat, fast on the day. Devotees, chiefly women seek forgiveness for any sins, especially in the past lives, and for a healthy body and soul.
There is also a legend-tale behind the observance of Rishi Panchami. It was also told by Lord Brahma. Rishi Panchami is for the purposes of purification of the body and the soul, especially for women. The narrative behind it goes that once there lived a simple couple in the ancient times. The couple’s daughter was a widow who lived with them. One night, countless ants and worms covered their daughter’s body. This made the couple worried-troubled, and they immediately approached a Rishi, Sage, for a remedy and cure.
The Rishi observed and studied their daughter’s past. He observed that this happened to their daughter due to her sins in her past life and that she had entered the kitchen in her period-menstruation; also that their daughter had not observed a Vrat, fast. However, the Rishi provided a solution to perform certain rituals, Upays to wade off the Doshas. A Dosha is like a bad omen, unfavorable circumstance or bad condition. The Rishi advised their daughter to observe the Panchami Vrat. The daughter was cured thereafter; hence, the observance of Rishi Panchami.
A Mantra to chant in Rishi Panchami observance time is—
Ayur Balam Yasho Varachaha Praajaha Pasu Vasuni Cha,
Brahma Prajyam Cha Medham Cha Tvam Te Dhehvo Vanaspate.