The story of Rishi Panchami:
The story related to Rishi Panchami goes thus:
This incident happened in Satyayuga. A pundit named Sumitra lived in King Shayanjeet’s kingdom. He was a learned pundit, knowing about the Vedas. The pundit earned for his family through farming. He and his wife Jayashree worked in the fields.
One day, Sumitra became ill and his wife performed the daily activities in an impure condition. She even touched her husband in the same condition. Due to this, Sumitra was reborn as a bull after his death. Jayashree was reborn in the form of a dog, after her death.
Both returned to the home of their previous birth in the current form because they had the knowledge of their human birth. Sumitra’s son Sumati was also a learned Brahmin, who knew all the Vedas. He began to take care of the bull and the dog.
One day, Sumati performed the Shraddha of his parents. He arranged for payasam for the Brahmins. A snake fell into the payasam and it became poisonous. The dog, which was the second birth of Sumati’s mother, saw this. She realized that the Brahmins would die if they ate this payasam and Sumati would receive the sins for the act. Thus, the dog touched the payasam to make it impure.
Having seen the act of the dog, Sumati’s wife beat up the animal with a burning wooden stick and even deprived her of food on that day. The dog told everything to the bull. Soon, Sumati got to know what had really happened and realized that his parents had been reborn as the animals.
Sumati was unhappy and he went to a sage to find a method for his parents’ reattainment of human birth. The sage told him to perform the pooja of the sage of his gothra on Rishi Panchami and not to eat food prepared from plants plowed by bulls. Sumati followed the instructions and his parents could now be born as humans.
After the second pooja on Shashti, the udhyapana or send off has to be done, consigning the ‘rishis’ to water at home. Later the ‘rishis’ can be consigned to flowing water. They can also be poured into a plant-pot, in our garden.