Vaikuntha Ekadashi is an important occasion that falls on the ‘Ekadashi’ (11th day) of the Shukla Paksha (the waxing phase of moon) in the month of ‘Pausha’ in the Hindu calendar. This holy day happens in the months of December to January in the Gregorian calendar. The day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi is highly auspicious for the devotees of Vishnu as is mainly believed to be the ‘Vaikuntha Dwaram’ which is the gateway to Lord Vishnu’s abode and mainly opens up on this day. Therefore, the devotee needs to keep a sacred fast on Vaikuntha Ekadashi. It is believed that the devotee observing fast will definitely reach the ‘Vaikuntha’ and never has to face Yama Raja, the Lord of Death.
According to the Hindu calendar, all the Ekadashi’s are auspicious but Vaikuntha Ekadashi is much more special. It is believed that on this auspicious day the Vaikuntha Dwar or the Supreme Gate of heaven opens up. It is believed that if an ardent Vishnu worshipper or Bhakt observes a fast on the Vaikuntha Ekadashi day, it is equivalent to observing all 23 Ekadashis of the year.
The significance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is one of the holy days for Hindus. The magnitude of this holy day has been described in many Hindu religious scriptures such as ‘Padma Purana’. As per the legends, it is believed that fasting on the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi gives the same benefits as obtained by fasting on the remaining 23rd Ekadashi in the Hindu calendar. Devotees performing the Vaikuntha Ekadashi fast get liberated from their sins and can attain salvation.
How this Ekadashi is celebrated?
Hindu devotees observe this day with full zeal and enthusiasm, all across the country. In the southern states of India, this Ekadashi is often known as ‘Mukkoti Ekadashi’ and is celebrated in the month of ‘Margazhi’ in the Tamilian calendar. In the states like Kerala, Vaikuntha Ekadashi is famous as ‘Swargavathil Ekadashi’. On this day special prayers, discourses, speeches, and yagnas are organized in different parts of the world at the temple of Lord Vishnu. In India, the celebration takes place in the following temples such as:
- Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati
- Mahalakshmi Temple at Gubbi
- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam
- Rajagopalaswamy Temple at Mannargudi
The festivities are very splendor particularly in South Indian temples as they are mainly dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Rituals during Vaikuntha Ekadashi
On the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, the devotees and observers keep a strict fast. They do not eat or drink anything throughout the day. The people who desire to keep this fast can only eat once on ‘dashami’ (10th day). Complete fasting is observed on Ekadashi. Devotees, who can’t keep such a strict fast, can eat fruits and milk on those days. Eating rice and grains are not allowed on any Ekadashi, for all the believers.
Special prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu and the observer of this vrat is engaged in ‘Japa’ (chanting Vishnu’s name) and ‘Dhyana’ (meditation). On the night of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, worshippers stay awake and spend their time listening stories and singing bhajans in praise of Lord Vishnu.
Benefits of Vaikuntha Ekadashi
When one observes Ekadashi, the soul and spirit are in perfect alignment with the astral planets. This day helps one meditate and observe a considerably improved concentration, though one may not realize it easily. Special prayers and rituals are held in Vishnu temples across the world on Vaikuntha Ekadasi. Many temples adorn a heavenly gate-like structure to represent the Vaikuntha Dwar on this day.
As on the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, it is highly believed that the ‘Gates of Heaven’ are opened for all devotees. They visit Lord Vishnu temples in the evening in large numbers. The region encircling the temple is known as ‘Vaikuntha Vaasal’ and the followers of Lord Vishnu throng to enter this area and seek Lord Vishnu’s blessing. Others who can’t pay a visit to the temple can perform Vishnu Puja at home with all vidhi-vidhan.
Askganesha wishes you and your family a very happy Vaikuntha Ekadashi festival.Vaikuntha Ekadashi: A way to heavenly abode by Astrologer Amit