October 18, 2017: Naraka Chathurdasi, Bahir Deepadanam, Yama Tarpanam, Preta Chaturthi, Swatyambhangam, Maasa Sivarati, Kedara Gowri Vrat
October 19, 2017: Deepavali, Diwali
October 20, 2017: Bali Padyami, Start of Aakasa Deepam, Govardhana Pooja, Gokreedana, Mangalamalika
The 5th day of the ascending moon phase, on Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha Panchami day, is observed as Rishi Panchami / Rushi Panchami. This is a day on which men and women can observe fast and worship Sapta Rishis (Seven Sages). It is a belief that observing fast on this day will relieve us from sins that are committed knowingly or unknowingly.
The person who wishes to observe fast should start their day with a holy dip / bath in a river, pond or a lake. For those who do not have access to such precious water bodies, it is a common to mix few drops of water from River Ganga with normal water and use such water for bathing. An area is to be identified which is earmarked with cow dung and mud mixed paste. A clay / copper vessel filled with water is placed in the identified spot. Eight petals of lotus leaves are drawn round the vessel and pooja is performed to the Sapta-Rishi. The legendary story is recited. Brahmins are to be fed after which the fast-observer can eat.
The legendary story is that a King Sitashwa prayed to Lord Brahma for a fast that will fetch blessings with ease. Then, Lord Brahma himself has explained the story of Rishi Panchami.
There used to live a very religious Brahmin in the state of Vidarbha. He has a truthful and honest wife, a son and a daughter. The daughter lost her husband within few days of her marriage. The Brahmin couple and their daughter used to live on the banks of River Ganga. One day, when the daughter was fast asleep her body was filled with maggots. The Brahmin meditated and gained the knowledge that the daughter, in her previous life, used to touch utensils during her periods which is considered a sin and root cause for all her misery. Hindu religious scriptures revels that a women, during her periods, is considered unclean and that her body is impious. She is cleansed only after the bath on the fourth day. The women gets salvation if she observes fast on Rishi Panchami day.
The daughter of the Brahmin, thus having known the reasons for her misery, upon he advise of the Brahmin observed the fast on the Rishi Panchami day and hence got cleansed from all her sins. She has thus become eligible to be blessed with a long life and marital bliss in her next life.