Ekadashi Vrat is an auspicious occasion
Today is Kamika Ekadasi Vrat(Fast) one of many religiously observant Hindus observe all year long. My mother who is 57 and my grandmother who is nearing 86 in a few months have been observing this vrat (fast) since they were 11 years old Wow!! have given me the inspiration to write this article and present it in front of our readers. So let’s find out the facts about this fast and why is it important:
1. What is Ekadashi? Seriously what is it!!!
Ekadashi (“Eleventh”), also spelled as (Ē)Ekādaśi, is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of each of the two lunar phases that occur in a vedic calendar month, the Shukla Pakṣha (the period of the brightening moon also known as the waxing phase) and the Krishna Pakṣha (the period of the fading moon also known as the waning phase)
2. Why is Ekadashi Important? A Question Everybody is Asking!!
In Sanatana Dharma the real term for Hinduism, Ekadashi holds great importance. Ekadashi is the favorite day (tithi) of Lord Krishna and devotees observe “upvas” by staying hungry for the whole day to be closer to Krishna.
3. Ekadashi: A Day to Cleanse the Body
In Nepal and India, Ekadashi is considered a day to cleanse the body, aid repair and rejuvenation and is usually observed by partial or complete fast. High protein and carbohydrate-containing foods such as beans and grains are not consumed by observant people during the fast as it is a day to cleanse the body. Instead, only fruit, vegetables, and milk products are eaten. The period of abstinence starts from sunrise on the day of Ekadashi to sunrise on the following day. Rice is forbidden to consume on Ekadashi.
4. What to Eat and What to Avoid During Ekadashi Vrat? And it Should be Seriously Followed:
Actually, as I have mentioned before certain things can be consumed in Ekadashi and certain things cannot be consumed but the things that can be consumed or not are different in every Ekadashi Vrat that is observed. For eg: In Papmochani ( Literally: Sin Ending) Ekadashi vegetables in cooked or even raw form are not allowed whereas in Apara Ekadashi you can eat vegetables of some kind.
5. How many Ekadashis are in a year?
There are usually 24 Ekadashi in a calendar year. Occasionally, there are two extra Ekadashi that happen in a leap year. Each Ekadashi day is purported to have particular benefits that are attained by the performance of specific activities.
6. Significance of Ekadashi
Ekadashi Tithi, the eleventh lunar day (Shukla Ekadashi), also known as Hari Vasara because it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a day of fasting and prayers for all Hindus. Those who fast on this day are considered to get rid of malefic planetary influences, experience happiness, and gain the right peace of mind to think of Ishvara (God) and attain moksha (to be free from worldly tensions). It is a day of Vishtikarana, a day of malefic influences. Vishtikarana coincides with the second half of Ekādaśī Tithi and is avoided for all functions associated with worldly prosperity but for such celebrations.
7. Which one’s are important?
While every Ekadashi vrat (fast) has equal importance and significance two of them are more important than others and they are “Harisayani( Hari Sleeping) and “Haribodhani”(Hari Waking up) Ekadashi. Here Hari means Lord Vishnu and on this auspicious day, Lord Vishnu goes to Sea(his wife’s home) to visit for 4 months according to a religious text.
8. Stories to be Told on Ekadashi Vrat:
Every Ekadashi Vrat has its own significant story known as Ekadashi Mahatmay. It contains the reason and origins of that particular Ekadashi Vrat and priests and elders read these stories in front of an observant mass.
9. Why Rice is not Consumed During Ekadashi Fast?
Rice is the staple food of the South Asian region despite that rice is not consumed in Ekadashi Vrat and the reason behind that is; that according to religious beliefs, a drop of sweat fell on the ground from Lord Brahma’s head and became a demon. When it asked for a place to live, Brahma told the demon to exist in the grains of rice consumed by people on Ekadashi and convert them into worms in their stomachs.
There is also a scientific reason behind not having rice on Ekadashi. Eating food that retains too much water on Ekadashi can cause unsteadiness as the moon attracts water and the rays of the moon are said to have more cosmic energy on this day. Since rice grains hold a lot of water content, consuming them on a fasting day can lead to the aggravation of certain conditions like water retention, cold, sinusitis, etc.
10. Who observes and fasts during the Ekadashi Vrat?
People of Hindu and Jain cultures usually observe Ekadashi Vrat twice every month.
It really falls on the people who observe and fast during the Ekadashi to defend its importance and significance rest of us are just the observers looking from the sidelines.