Ekadashi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Vishnu on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight in traditional Hindu calendar and thus there are two Ekadashi in a month. It is also known as ‘Harivasara’ and ‘Hari din.’ Several Puranas including Padma Purana and Skanda Purana detail about the significance of Ekadeshi. It is associated with Lord Vishnu and ‘Haribhakti Vilas’ talks in detail about its importance. . Today , in Hindu religion Fasting on Ekadashi is considered highly auspicious and is believed to anyone who observes Ekadasi fast will be freed of their sins and will attain Moksha.
When to start Ekadasi Fasting?
Lord Krishna advices Arjuna to begin the Ekadasi fasting in the autumn season with Utpanna or Uttpatti Ekadasi occurring during the waning phase of the moon in November – December.
Ekadasi Food – What can be eaten on Ekadashi?
It is believed that demon Mura found a dwelling place in the rice and Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Ekadasi to annihilate Mura. Therefore devotees who fast on the Ekadashi day avoid food made from grains.
Many devotees due to several reasons – like health and job commitments – observe partial fast on the day. Such people avoid non-vegetarian and food items made from beans, pulses and grains, especially rice. The most preferred Ekadasi fasting food in western parts of India is Sabudana Khichadi with potatoes and ground nut - but no onion and garlic.
The food that can be consumed on the Ekadasi day includes fresh and dried fruits, milk products, vegetables and nuts.
As the list of Ekadasi food expands there will be new issues cropping up like – Are you sure this can be consumed on Ekadasi?
So the golden rule is avoid pulses and grains on Ekadasi.
Drink lots of water and eat fresh and dried fruits.
In Hinduism, Upvaas is meant to bring a person close to Brahman. So forget about the rules and regulations and what you are going to gain from the Ekadashi fast. Spend the day in purifying the mind and body
How to fast on Ekadashi?
How to observe Ekadashi was narrated to Arjuna by Lord Krishna and is found in the Bhavisyottara Purana.
· A picture or photo or idol of Lord Vishnu
· Tulsi leaves (The tulsi leaves should not be picked on the day but on the previous day)
· Yellow bananas
· And other normal puja items
· Wake up early in the morning. Take bath and offer prayers.
· Perform a simple puja to Lord Vishnu at home by lighting a lamp and offering fruits and Tulsi leaves.
· Pray or meditate for few minutes.
· If there is a Vishnu temple nearby visit the temple and witness morning pujas and rituals.
Complete fast or Upavas on the day is the main observance.
· Fasting is for 24 hours. It is believed that a partial or total abstinence from food on Ekadasi is rewarded with bliss.
· If you have any health problem or are taking medicines, please consult your doctor before deciding on fasting. You can also opt for a partial fast by avoiding food made of rice.
· Do not eat food made from rice on Ekadashi.
· Strictly avoid eating rice and grains, honey, meat and eating on a bell metal plate. Do not apply oil on the day Those taking partial fast can consume fruits and milk.
Take bath and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu
· Take a bath in the evening.
· Repeat the morning puja to Vishnu
· Visit Vishnu temple and witness the evening puja and rituals.
Prayers for Ekadashi
· Vishnu Ashotharam
· Vishnu Sahasranamam
· Simple Chanting of – Om Namo Narayana
· Or any prayers dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Sri Krishna
No Sleep of Keeping Vigil at Night
Staunch devotees who observe Vaikunta Ekadasi fasting do not sleep on the day. They spend the whole night at Vishnu temples or by singing prayers or listening stories dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
But those devotees who have health problems sleep at night. Those people who work, take rest at night and avoid keeping vigil at night
Next Day Morning
The fast is broken on the next day (Dwadashi) after taking bath. Offer prayers to Lord Vishnu by lighting a lamp and then you can break the fast.