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Rishi Panchami Vratam In South India

Vratams (vows and fasts) form an integral part of Hindu religious life. Rishi Panchami Vratam is one such ritual in South India and is performed on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Bhadrapada (Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha Panchami).

Rishi Panchami vratam is observed especially by widows, widowers and elderly people. The ritual is mainly performed by those women who have passed the menstrual cycle. The vratam is prominently observed by certain South Indian Brahmin communities.

The rulebook says that couples should perform this vrata together.

The practical details of the performance of the Vratam are given in Nirnaya Sindhu, considered an authoritative work for the performance of Hindu rituals in the last two hundred years. The worshipping of the sages (rishis) is its unique feature.

The vrata is to be performed on the bank of a river and is to be observed for seven years before making a formal completion (udyapana).

The person performing should avoid non vegetarian food, avoid sexual activities and should focus only on spiritual aspects. Non-observance of these rules results in sin, which leads to suffering in future births, according to the details of the vratam given in Skanda Purana in a conversation between Sanatkumara and Nandikeshwara.