Rushi Pancham is a unique ritual observed by farmers and women in
Gujarat on the fifth day of the waxing phase of moon in Bhadrapad month (August - September). Rushi Pancham 2013 date is September 10. As per Hindu tradition, women are not supposed to perform any religious ritual or visit temples during menstrual period. If a woman happens to break the rule, then she can perform the Rushi Pancham ritual and absolve the sin.
In some Hindu communities, there is a belief that during menstrual period, a woman should not touch anyone or any vessel.
Legend has it that a woman who did not stick to this rule was born as a dog in her next birth. A holy saint who realized that the dog was a woman in her earlier birth, asked the owners of the dog to perform Rushi Pancham vrat so that the woman can escape from pain and rebirth. The couple performed the Vrat and the woman got moksha.
Women fast on the day, which falls on the fifth day of Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapad month.
Farmers perform the ritual for sins committed during the previous year. Farmers who had injured any animal or committed any other sin perform this ritual.
It must be noted that Rushi Pancham ritual has lost its value in the modern world and many people do not follow it. But majority of devout Hindu women still avoid performing religious duties during the menstrual period.
The day is popularly observed as Rishi Panchami day.