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A story goes according to which Lord Shiva was once meditating on the Himalayas when a group of seven saints came to him seeking his blessings. These sages tried hard but could not make Shiva open his eyes. But the sages were desperate and waited there for Shiva to open his eyes.
It is said that the sages waited for years, and thus when Shiva was pleased, he asked them their wish. The sages just wanted to know about who he (Shiva) was and what was the secret behind the eternal tranquillity that they had seen on Shiva's face while he was meditating. Therefore, Shiva gave them the fundamental secrets of Yoga and meditation. These seven sages were then collectively known as Saptarishi and Shiva was thus known as the first Guru.
These seven sages are now worshipped until today and a festival known as Rishi Panchami is celebrated to seek their blessings.
Rishi Panchami 2018 Date & Muhurta
Rishi Panchami falls on the fifth day during Shukla Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad. It corresponds to the month of August-September as per the Gregorian calendar. This year it will be observed on September 14, 2018. The auspicious muhurta for the puja would be from 11:09 am to 1:35 pm. Thus the puja can be performed any time between these two hours.
Significance Of Observing Rishi Panchami
All the seven sages known as Saptarishi are worshipped on this day. Saptarishis were the sages whom Lord Shiva is believed to have first imparted the fundamental principles of Yoga.
The Rishi Panchami day is celebrated as a fasting day, just the next day after Ganesha Chaturthi. It is said that observing a fast on this day can wash away all the sins from the life of the people. The fast holds special significance for women where all the bad deeds of the past life are believed to get cleared by observing this fast.
Why Rishi Panchami Is More Significant For Women
According to one belief, there is another story behind the observation of the fast. As most of the Hindu communities believe when women are undergoing menstruation, they are considered impure and should not visit holy places or touch sacred items. However, it is common to make a mistake while observing these rules. Thus, it is said that all such mistakes get washed away by observing a fast on Rishi Panchami.
The fast is observed where people take bath during the Brahma Muhurta. While the provision is to perform a holy bath in a river, one can take bath at home after adding some gangajal in water as well. Images of Saptarishis are placed on a wooden stool and they are offered prayers. A Kalash is also installed near the stool. Thereafter, a vow for fasting the whole day is taken. Then seven cows are fed and seven priests are offered food. The Parana (the ritual of breaking the fast) is performed in the evening.