The word Ekadash means the number 11. The term Ekadashi refers to the 11th day in the two lunar phases in the vedic month.
The 11th day before the full moon in Shukla Paksha and the 11th day after the new moon in Krshna Paksha is celebrated as Ekadashi fasting day. People all over India who practice Hinduism remain on a 24 hour fast.
There are a total of 24 Ekadashis associated with incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The number increases when there is an extra month called Kharmas or Malamas or Adhik Mas which keeps the Lunar and Solar calendars aligned.
Significance of Fasting
In every mandala consisting of 40 to 48 days there are three specific days in which our body requires no food. This maybe different for different persons according to their physical needs. So fasting for these three days is beneficial for human body. In order to practice this Ekadashi is marked as the day of fasting when the planetary positions are such that affect our body the most in a positive way. There are three Ekadashis that come in this period of 48 days.
Not eating for a day cleanses the body from inside. The body detoxifies itself on its own. Cleansing of blood, veins etc. happens effectively when the energy is not occupied in digesting the food then in absorbing it.
- Many Yogis and Sadhaks remain for a 24 hour fast without even taking water known as Nirjala Upvas.
- Some people only take water during the Ekadashi, this is Sajal Upvas.
- Some people only take fruits and fruit juices, this is Saphal Upvas
- Some people eat the day before Ekadashi and then eat light meal the next day at dinner. Many also eat only fruits and light things who can’t remain on an empty stomach.
Below are some Practices that people follow in Ekadashi fasts:–
- Many devotees avoid eating Anna ( wheat, rice, bajra etc ) even when they eat once.
- Lord Vishnu and his Avatars are worshipped on this day. Mostly people worship the Krishna avatar of Vishnu.
- The day is also associated with gaining full control over 11 human senses. These 11 sense fall into 3 categories which are Budhhi, Karma and Ubhaya.
- People in Indian homes also avoid consuming rice on Ekadashis. The rice retain water inside when cooked. Taking water rich diet on Ekadashis when moon’s cosmic energy is on the rise can cause water retention, cold, sinusitis etc. in the body.
- There are a total of 24 types of Ekadashis in an year. Each one is associated with a different Vishnu avatar and specific food Item.
ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नमः ||
” Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudevay Namah “Mantra
The above mantra is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna both. It is known as Dwadakshari mantra or 12 syllable mantra.