Vaikunta Ekadashi is a highly significant festival that holds deep spiritual significance in Hindu culture. Observed on the eleventh day of the waxing or waning moon during the month of Margashirsha (December-January), it is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm in temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, particularly in South India. In this blog, we will explore what Vaikunta Ekadashi is, its significance, why it is considered an auspicious day, what activities one can engage in, mantras to chant, and which lord to worship.
Vaikunta Ekadashi Parana
Vaikunta Ekadashi on Saturday, December 23, 2023
On Parana Day Dwadashi would be over before Sunrise
On 24th Dec, Parana Time – 06:38 AM to 08:54 AM
Parana, the act of breaking the fast, is done after sunrise on the day following Ekadashi. It is important to perform Parana within the Dwadashi Tithi unless it ends before sunrise. The preferred time to break the fast is Pratahkal (morning time), while it should be avoided during Madhyahna (midday). If circumstances prevent breaking the fast during Pratahkal, it can be done after Madhyahna.
What is Vaikunta Ekadashi?
Vaikunta Ekadashi falls during the Dhanur solar month in the Hindu calendar. It is observed on the Shukla Paksha Ekadashi, which is the eleventh day of the waxing moon, out of the two Ekadashis that occur in a month. In the Tamil calendar, Dhanur month is known as Margazhi month. Vaikunta Ekadashi may occur either in the month of Margashirsha or in Pausha according to the Hindu lunar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, there may be none, one, or two Vaikunta Ekadashis in a year.
Vaikunta Ekadashi is a sacred festival that marks the opening of the gates of Vaikunta, the divine abode of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that on this day, the doors of Vaikunta are accessible to His ardent devotees. Vaikuntha refers to the realm of eternal bliss and spiritual liberation. This festival celebrates the opportunity for devotees to attain salvation and be united with the divine.
Significance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Vaikunta Ekadashi holds immense spiritual significance for several reasons
Moksha (Liberation): It is believed that by observing fasts and engaging in devotional practices on Vaikunta Ekadashi, one can attain Moksha (liberation) and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death.
Opening of Vaikuntha Gates: On this auspicious day, the gateways to Vaikunta are said to open wide, allowing devotees to enter and experience divine bliss.
Purification: Devotees engage in fasting, prayer, and other spiritual activities to purify their minds, bodies, and souls. It is seen as an opportunity to cleanse oneself of past sins and seek forgiveness.
Divine Blessings: By observing Vaikunta Ekadashi rituals, devotees seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu for spiritual progress, protection, prosperity, and overall well-being.
Devotees observe fast on Vaikunta Ekadashi and engage in devotional activities such as chanting the Holy Names of Lord Vishnu and singing His glories. It is considered a highly auspicious day for spiritual practices and seeking the blessings of Lord Vishnu. The festival holds special significance for the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati and the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam.
Which Lord to Worship?
On Vaikunta Ekadashi, the primary deity to worship is Lord Vishnu in any of His forms – Narayana, Krishna, Rama, or any other form that resonates with you. Devotees can also focus their worship on the Sudarshana Chakra (the divine disc weapon of Lord Vishnu) Venkateshwara or the sacred symbol ‘Om,’ representing the divine cosmic energy.
Remember, the choice of deity and mantra may vary based on personal preference and one’s spiritual path.
Auspicious Rituals on Vaikunta Ekadashi
To make the most of this sacred day, here are some activities you can engage in
Observing Fasting: Devotees observe a complete fast on Vaikunta Ekadashi. Fasting purifies the body and mind, strengthens self-discipline, and enhances spiritual focus.
Vishnu Puja: Worship Lord Vishnu with devotion and offer prayers to seek His blessings. Decorate the deity’s idol or picture with flowers, sandalwood paste, and other auspicious items.
Reciting Scriptures: Chanting or reciting scriptures like Vishnu Sahasranama (the thousand names of Lord Vishnu) or Vishnu Purana is considered highly auspicious on Vaikunta Ekadashi.
Listening to Bhajans/Kirtans: Attend Bhajan or Kirtan sessions dedicated to Lord Vishnu to immerse yourself in devotional music and uplift your spirit.
Charitable Acts: Perform acts of charity such as donating food, clothing, or money to the underprivileged. This selfless act helps accumulate positive karma and brings blessings.
Visiting Temples: Visit temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and participate in special rituals and ceremonies conducted on Vaikunta Ekadashi.
Mantras to Chant on Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Chanting mantras dedicated to Lord Vishnu can enhance your spiritual experience on Vaikunta Ekadashi. Here are a few powerful mantras
Om Namo Narayanaya: This mantra invokes Lord Vishnu’s divine energy and seeks His blessings for spiritual growth and protection
Om Vishnave Namah: Chanting this mantra helps purify the mind, body, and soul, promoting spiritual well-being.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya: This mantra is a salutation to Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It invokes His divine presence and bestows blessings upon the devotee.
Om Ramachandraya Namah: This mantra is dedicated to Lord Rama, another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Chanting it brings peace, harmony, and spiritual upliftment.
Different Types of Ekadashi Fasting
Choosing Based on Willpower and Strength
During the Sankalp (pledge) for Ekadashi fasting, devotees have the freedom to select the type of fasting according to their willpower and physical strength. Religious texts outline four types of Ekadashi fasting
Jalahar (Water Fasting): This type involves fasting with only water. Many devotees observe this fasting during Nirjala Ekadashi, but it can be practiced on all Ekadashi days.
Ksheerbhoji (Milk-based Fasting): This type involves consuming milk and milk-based products, including all products made from milk, such as dairy desserts and beverages.
Phalahari (Fruit Fasting): This type revolves around consuming fruits only. Devotees should consume high-quality fruits like mangoes, grapes, bananas, almonds, and pistachios, while avoiding leafy vegetables.
Naktabhoji (Evening Meal Fasting): Naktabhoji entails having a single meal just before sunset. This meal should not include grains, cereals, beans, wheat, rice, or pulses, as these are forbidden during Ekadashi fasting. The staple diet for Naktabhoji during Ekadashi fasting includes Sabudana (sago), Singhada (water caltrop or chestnut), Shakarkandi (sweet potato), Potatoes, and Groundnuts.
While some people consider Kuttu Atta (buckwheat flour) and Samak (millet rice) as staple foods during the single meal on Ekadashi, their validity as Ekadashi food is debatable since they are considered semi-grains or pseudo grains. It is good to avoid these items during fasting.
It is important to note that devotees can choose the type of fasting that suits their preferences and physical capabilities. The ultimate goal is to observe the fast with devotion and maintain purity of mind and body throughout the day.
Vaikunta Ekadashi is a gateway to divine bliss and spiritual liberation. By observing fasts, engaging in devotional practices, reciting mantras, and seeking the blessings of Lord Vishnu, devotees can make this day even more auspicious and transformative. May this Vaikunta Ekadashi bring you closer to the divine and bestow upon you the eternal blessings of Lord Vishnu!