Most of the Hindu women across Nepal wrap up Teej (the most auspicious Hindu festival) by performing puja of seven sages on the third consecutive day of the religious fiesta. The day is popularly known as Rishi Panchami or Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami, when Hindu women observe fast and express gratefulness to the contribution of great Rishis (saints); Kashyap, Atri, Bharadwaj, Vishwamitra, Gautam, Janadagni and Vashishtha. It is believed that this is the perfect day to honour the entire gamut of sages – from the ancient to the present time. The festival of Rishi Panchami is especially dedicated to the Saptarishi, the seven great sages. The term rishi denotes sage and the term Panchami signifies the fifth day. Therefore, Rishi Panchami denotes the commemoration of great sages on the fifth day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad. Sapta Rishi refers to the seven learned sages who devoted their lives to the betterment of humankind. They taught people the basic principles of taking goodness to a higher level and were very determined as far as their principles of living life are concerned. It is believed that they passed down their wisdom to the people so that the people are able to follow the path of knowledge and become enlightened.
The Great Legend of Rishi Panchami
Rishi Panchami is such an auspicious day that if the fast is observed and rituals are performed, a person is relieved from all the sins of his or her present or past life. Lord Brahma himself is the one who narrated the story of Rishi Panchami. According to him, there was a simple Brahmin named Uttank who used to live with his wife Sushila. Their daughter, who was a widow, also lived with them. One night, several ants covered the body of the daughter and the parents were astonished to see this. They became extremely worried and immediately called a sage, so that he could mend the situation.
The Rishi whom they called was a learned sage and he explained the reason behind the trouble. He made them aware of the sin that their daughter committed in her previous life. He told them that their daughter had entered the kitchen during her menstruation. The rishi advised the daughter to perform certain rituals on the day of Rishi Panchami to purify her body and soul, so that this way, she would be relieved of the sin that she has committed. Following the instructions given by the sage, the daughter performed all the customs with absolute devotion. This set her soul free from the dosha. Therefore, this little yet powerful story becomes a platform that explains the significance of Rishi Panchami. Rishi Panchami is the road to peace and sanctification of the soul, mind and body.