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Ekadashi or Ekadasi, is the eleventh tithi of the lunar cycle. It occurs both in the shukla [waxing phase of the Moon] and krishna paksha [waning phase] every month. According to Indian beliefs, it is a very auspicious day for spiritual practices. People follow the Ekadashi vrath or Ekadasi viratham, by fasting from the the sunrise on the day of Ekadasi till the sunrise the next day.
All grains are avoided and only only fruits and vegetables and milk products are consumed on this day. It is a day considered as a best day for fasting since on this day, the rays of the moon are supposed to nourish the subtle nerves and feelings of the heart.
It is also mentioned in the Bhagavatha Puranam, where the observance of this viratham is attributed to Ambarisha, a Vishnu devotee.
Significance and importance of Ekadashi
Ekadashi is the Sanskrit word for eleven. According to Hindu calendar, this day falls on the 11th day of shukla paksh and Krishna paksh. It means it falls on the fortnight of each lunar month. In Jainism and Buddhism, this day is considered to be very important and beneficial as this day is totally dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Hindus keep fast on this day.
The significance and importance of this day is described in Puranas. All Vishnu devotees consider Ekadashi fasting very strictly and with great spirit. They avoid consuming grains, cereals, vegetables, spices and beans during the fast. The fast begins from a day before ekadashi and ends on the auspicious day. Devotees, who plan to keep fast on this day, wake up early in the morning and then take ritual bath. They perform pooja and then start all their routine work. They perform all the work during the fast and avoid salt.
The preferred food that can be consumed by devotee during the fast includes dry fruits, nuts, some vegetables, fruits and milk products. In some parts of India, devotees who keep fast consume Sabudana Khichdi which is made of sabudana, ground nuts and potatoes. Garlic and onions are avoided during this fast. Furthermore, non veg food, sex and alcohol are avoided. On the day of Ekadashi, complete fasting has to be done. Devotees spend whole day in the worship of Lord Vishnu. They recite mantras and perform pooja on this auspicious day.
After Ekadashi, the day comes of Dwadashi. On this day the devotees follow the same routine as that of Dashmi day. Devotees have to avoid overeating on this day. People who keep fast have to eat food prepared at their home. Outside food is not allowed to be eaten during the fast otherwise it will be responsible for breaking the fast. One has to be very careful and cautious while keeping fast on this day. All the essential rules of the fast have to be followed and considered strictly.
Those who keep fast on this day get benefited with good health and they become free from ailments. Fasting on this day provides peace of mind and also clears the path of moksha for the devotee. Through fasting on this day, devotees show their respect and love for their lord. During the fast they just follow the strict rules of fast and keep remembering their Lord Vishnu.
Ekadashi fast provides lot of benefits to the one who keeps it properly. Scientifically or medically also this fasting proves to be very beneficial for an individual as it improves the digestive system as well as improves the resistance power of body. This fast reduces stress and anxiety and provides peace of mind. According to Hindu beliefs, one who keeps fast on this day gets freedom from all types of sins as well as sinful activities and he feels to be closer to the Lord.
You need to be careful when selecting the day for fasting as it should coincide with tenth tithi. The tenth tithi should complete 96 minutes before sunrise. If so happens, the day can be celebrated as Ekadashi.