The Hindu calendar is full of festivals and religious offerings. One such festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu is Ekadasi.
We know that the moon changes its phase every day, so on the eleventh lunar day of this cycle, it shines the brightest and is also called the waxing phase of the moon. It usually falls 24 times in a year and 26 times in leap year.
So this 11th lunar day is celebrated as Ekadasi by a large community of people.
There is a total of 24 different types of Ekadasi(twice in a month after Amavasya and Purnima). All associated with various incarnations/Janma of Lord Vishnu. Each consists of different types of rituals and food rules during the fast.
It is believed that if you worship Lord Vishu on this day all our problems related to money, happiness, and wrongdoings are whipped off.
The devotees show their devotion to the great lord by fasting. Only fruits or vegetables and milk products are consumed but there is no carbohydrate intake, this is all done to keep your body, mind, and soul clean. The fast usually starts from the sunrise and ends on the sunrise of the following day.
According to Vedas and Puranas, a story was told which lead to being the reason behind Ekadasi.
Once there was an old couple who were very generous even though they were extremely poor they used to serve everyone who came to their house. One day a maharishi came and the couple did what they always do, served him good food. Impressed by their generosity and love rishi told them to keep a fast on the 11th lunar day of the cycle. The couple did as they were told by the rishi. And the next morning a prince came and offered them a house, prosperity, and other riches.
So from that day, we often celebrate it as Ekadasi.
But from this, we should also understand that if we wait and do our duties properly then a time will come and God will reward us for our work. Just like in the story the old couple served food to others out of humanity and love for God without expecting any after results. We should not get tempted and use shortcuts to get what we want rather follow God’s path and everything will fall into the right place.
Another story states that-
After the Goddess named Ekadasi defeated the demon named Mura, happy with her noble act Lord Vishnu blessed her with the words that whoever observes the Ekadashi vrat with all rules and niyamas will be freed for all their sins and will be blessed with wealth, happiness, and prosperity. They will gain Moksha and place in heaven after death.
Prayers and chant for Ekadashi
The universal mantra one should always consider chanting for Lord Vishnu is
“ Om Namah Bhagvate Vasudevay Namah”
श्री विष्णु मूल मंत्र : “ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नमः”
Also, chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra to chant 108 times: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare or Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare”.
Read Bhagvat Geeta, chant all songs or mantra dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.
Ekadashi Vrat Fasting Method
Ekadashi is considered one of the most holiest and important vrat in Indian culture. There is a saying that you can not commit mistakes during this vrat or the consequences would be very dangerous. So one must stay prepared both mentally and physically when he or she decides to do this vrat.
The preparations or ritual starts a day before the fast and it goes on the next day(Dwadashi).
Before the actual fasting day which is Dashmi, one must wake up early morning and should take an early bath, and perform daily routines. The person should mentally prepare for Ekadashi vrat and avoid being distracted.
He/She should only take one meal on Dashmi and avoid salt or anything prepared with onion garlic. They should also avoid nonveg, alcohol, sex or any
distracted thought about that.
One must stay pure to perform the rituals.
The next day, which is Ekadashi day, one must wake up early and chant mool mantra “ Om Namah Bhagvate Vasudevay Namah” and think about lord Vishnu before going off the day. Ekadashi is a total fasting day, one must take bath early and worship lord Vishnu with yellow flowers and read Bhagvat Geeta and its Shloka. Many devotees prefer to hear or read Bhagvat Geeta the whole day. Dedicating themselves to Lord Vishnu.
Avoid bed(khaat) for sleeping as it is considered as impure practice, one should use mat made with Kusha.
On the next day after Ekadashi, which is Dwadasi, one must wake up early and repeat the same routine as Ekadasi day. After that break your fast with water and wheat or any type of grains. Thank Lord Vishnu and ask for Moksha.
Overeating should be avoided. One must repeat the same routine as they have done in Dashmi day. Dwadashi is considered as important as both days.
Food For Ekadashi
There are numerous clarifications on what food one can have.
One should avoid rice or any food made by it as it is said that Demon Mura found a dwelling place in the rice and Lord Vishnu had to take Ekadasi form to defeat him.
However one should avoid food on this day but due to certain commitments like job or study one should keep partial fast.
They should consume fruits, milk products, dry fruits like cashew or nuts, and drink lots of water.
Sabu Dana and boil potatoes can be cooked too.
The entire motive of fasting Ekadashi is to make yourself close to Lord Vishnu, asking about his blessing and forgiveness. Spend your day purifying your mind and soul and surrendering yourself to Vishnu.
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