Rishi Panchami’s festival is related to the worship of the Sapta Rishi (seven mighty saints in Hindu religion). It is a Vrat (fast) observed on the fifth day of the Bhadra month (August-September) by the females. It falls in on Haritalika Teej’s third day. This is observed by both married and unmarried women and girls, who have reached their period of menstruation.
The period of menstruation is thought to be impure and during their period’s women and girls are not allowed to cook, touch or participate in any religious practices or to come into contact with any family members, especially males. This is the fast taken in order to seek forgiveness from the saints for any errors committed during the period of menstruation. The ritual bath is the principal feature of the day. On this day, women wake up early before the sunrises and take the ritual bath with particular kinds of mud, mud from the foot of the elephant, from the root of the Tulasi and from the root of Amala. They brush their teeth with Datiwan stem (herbal plant) and during worship, they offer the leaves of the same plant.
They make and worship the images of the seven saints using the cow dung. Vashishta, Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vishwamitra, Gautama and Jamadagni are the seven deities or the Sapta Rishi. The spirits of these sages were believed to be inhabiting the constellation Ursa Major, the north’s seven brightest stars (The Great Bear).
On this day the fast is strictly observed. Many people used to consume only fruit or root vegetables but nowadays they eat rice and curry after the worship is over. This is one of the most stringent and tuff-fasts. Most people do not take the menstruation taboo seriously these days which is an explanation why Rishi Panchami Vrat is unwelcome these days. Whatever the case, in Nepal’s rural and urban areas, Rishi Panchami is still strictly followed.