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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Vaikunta Ekadashi

Vaikunta Ekadashi.

Vaikunta Ekadashi is one of the most important Ekadasis.Ekadashi is an auspicious day dedicated to Bhagvan Srihari Vishnu and falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight in traditional Hindu calendar. In 2015, the date of Vaikunta Ekadasi is January 1. Swarga Vasal or or Paramapada opening is at 4:30 AM on January 1, 2015Please note that in United States and UK it is marked on December 31, 2014.Vaikuntha Ekadasi is observed in the Margali Month (Margazhi Masam) as per Tamil Calendar and in Pushya month as per Telugu Calendar. 

Vaikuntha Ekadashi is also known as Mukkoti Ekadasi and in Kerala it is known as Swargavathil Ekadasi.
Vaikunta Ekadasi festival is more elaborately celebrated by Vaishnavites. It is more prominent for Tamil and Telugu speaking people. Fasting, keep vigil at night and passing through the Vaikunta Dwaram are the important auspicious activities on the day.

Vaikunta Ekadasi is celebrated with great importance inTirupati Balaji Temple, Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, and Bhadrachalam Sita Ramachandraswamy temple. Apart from these temples, all the temples dedicated to Bhagvan Vishnu and his incarnations in South India celebrate Vaikunta Ekadasi.

Viakunta Ekadashi doors opened.

The most important ritual on the day in temples is the opening of the Vaikunta Dwaram or Paramapada Vasal door in Vishnu Temples. This door is only opened on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day and devotees are allowed to pass through it. Symbolically the door leads to the Vaikunta - abode of Vishnu.

Vaikunta Ekadasi is an important festival dedicated to Bhagvan Srihari Vishnu in the Tamil month of Margazhi(December-January). Vaikunda Ekadesi festival is of great significance at the Tirupati Balaji Temple, Srirangam SriRanganatha Temple and at the Bhadrachalam Temple. In Kerala, it is known as Swarga Vathil Ekadashi. Next Vaikunta Ekadasi date is January 1, 2015.
The significance of Vaikunta Ekadasi can be traced back to the Padma Purana. The Purana indicates that Bhagvan Vishnu took the form of ‘Ekadasi’ – female energy – to kill demon Muran. This happened during the month of Margazhi. Impressed by ‘Ekadasi,’ Vishnu told her that whoever worships him on this day will reach ‘Vaikunta’ (heaven).

Like all Ekadasi days, devotees fast on this day and observe vigil the whole night. Some people indulge in meditation, Japa and singing of Hari Kirtan. Rice is avoided during ekadashi days as it is believed that the demon Mura finds a dwelling in the rice eaten on Ekadasi day.
It is widely believed that the gates to the heaven open - the Gate of Vaikuntha - on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. It is one of the most auspicious days in Vishnu Temples in South India.
The ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven’ is opened on this day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunta in the temples.
Vaikunta Ekadasi occurs in December or early January. 

Vaikunta Ekadashi, or Mukkoti Ekadasi, is the most important of the twenty four Ekadashi observances in South India. Fasting and all night prayer dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the main observance of the day. It is believed that venerating Lord Vishnu on Vaikunda Ekadasi will help to free soul from cycles of rebirth and grant moksha. Another important belief is that Vaikunta Dwara, the doors of heaven, will open on this day and give easy access to Lord Vishnu.
Those visiting Vishnu Temples like Tirupati or Srirangam on Vaikunta Ekadashi can pass through the Vaikunta Dwara, the door through the inner most sanctum sanctorum. In South India, Vaikunta Ekadashi is also known as Mokshada Ekadasi. In 2015, Vaikunta Ekadasi is on January 1.
How to observe Vaikunta Ekadasi?
Vaikunta Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day in Margazhi Shukla Paksha in Tamil Calendar and in Telugu Calendar the same period is Pushya Shukla Paksha.
Things needed for Puja and Prayer
  • A picture or photo or idol of Lord Vishnu
  • Fruits
  • Tulsi leaves
  • Betel leaves (optional)
  • Betel nuts (optional)
  • Yellow bananas
  • Unbroken coconut (optional)
  • Wake up early in the morning. Take bath and offer prayers.
  • You can perform a simple puja to Lord Vishnu at home by offering fruits and Tulsi leaves.
  • You can just light the lamp and prayer or meditate for few minutes – or the normal ritual you do daily. Only difference is that today it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
  • If there is a Vishnu temple nearby visit the temple and witness morning pujas and rituals.
  • Complete fast or upavasam on the day is the main observance.
Fasting for 24 hours. It is believed that a partial or total abstinence from food on Ekadasi is rewarded with bliss.
If you have any health problem or are taking medicines, please consult your doctor before deciding on fasting. You can also opt for a partial fast by avoiding food made of rice.
Do not eat food made from rice on Ekadashi.
Evening Prayers
  • Take a bath in the evening.
  • Repeat the morning puja to Vishnu
  • Visit Vishnu temple and witness the evening puja and rituals.
Prayers for Vaikunta Ekadasi
  • Vishnu Ashotharam
  • Vishnu Sahasranamam
  • Or Simple Chanting of – Om Namo Narayana
No Sleep
Staunch devotees who observe Vaikunta Ekadasi fasting do not sleep on the day. They spend the whole night at Vishnu temples or by singing prayers or listening stories dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Next Day Morning
The fast is broken on the next day (Dwadashi) after taking bath. Offer prayers to Lord Vishnu by lighting a lamp and then you can break the fast. 

Ekadashi is mentioned in a number of Puranas. It is associated with Lord Vishnu and ‘Haribhakti Vilas’ talks in detail about its importance. Today, in Hindu religion Ekadasi has come to mean a day to fast. It falls on the 11th day of every lunar fortnight and thus there are two Ekadashi in a month. It is also known as ‘Harivasara’ and ‘Hari din.’ Several Puranas including Padma Purana and Skanda Purana detail about the significance of Ekadeshi.
How to fast on Ekadashi?
How to observe ‘Ekadashi’ is clearly mentioned in ‘Harivasara.’ In modern day, many people will find it difficult to observe it in its entire strictness. But there are a large number of people who observe it. And there are numerous observations on what food one can have? There are also regional variations to the way in which the Ekadasi is observed.
The preparation starts on Dasami day – a day before Ekadashi. The person observing Ekadashi should wake up early in the morning on Dasami day and should take bath and perform other daily routines. The person should mentally prepare for the Ekadashi. He/She should only have one meal on the Dasami day and should avoid salt. Alcohol, non-vegetarian food and sex should be avoided. Some Puranas say ‘dal’ and ‘honey’ should be avoided on Dasami day.
The next day, that is the Ekadashi day, is meant for total fasting. Praying to Vishnu is the order of the day. Some people avoid sleep during Ekadashi night and they hear religious discourses and perform ‘Arati.’ But many people today will not be able to stay awake the entire night due to work pressure etc.
The next day on Dwadasi – that is the day after Ekadeshi – the same routine done on Dasami is followed. Overeating should be avoided on Dwadasi day. Puranas state that one should not take pride in observing Ekadashi. The food on Dwadasi should be cooked in one’s house.
It is good to go on fast once in a while as it recuperates the body. Ekadashi observance cleans our body and the digestive organs get much needed rest.
Those people suffering from ailments and on medications should take the advice of a doctor before fasting. Never torture your body in the name of religion. There is nothing wrong in having fruits or milk. And you can bring a certain amount of flexibility in the way it is observed.

Ekadasi, or Ekadashi, is an important Upvaas (fast) dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Millions of Hindu devotees observe Ekadasi, which is considered highly auspicious by Lord Vishnu devotees. The traditional approach is to abstain from food completely on the day. But nowadays a complete fast is not possible for many people. Such people consume certain food items on the Ekadasi day and observe only a partial fast.

It is believed that demon Mura found a dwelling place in the rice and Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Ekadasi to annihilate Mura. Therefore devotees who fast on the Ekadashi day avoid food made from grains.
Many devotees due to several reasons – like health and job commitments – observe partial fast on the day. Such people avoid non-vegetarian and food items made from beans, pulses and grains, especially rice. The most preferred Ekadasi fasting food in western parts of India is Sabudana Khichadi with potatoes and ground nut - but no onion and garlic.

The food that can be consumed on the Ekadasi day includes fresh and dried fruits, milk products, vegetables and nuts.

As the list of Ekadasi food expands there will be new issues cropping up like – Are you sure this can be consumed on Ekadasi?

So the golden rule is avoid pulses and grains on Ekadasi.

Drink lots of water and eat fresh and dried fruits.

In Hinduism, Upvaas is meant to bring a person close to Brahman. So forget about the rules and regulations and what you are going to gain from the Ekadashi fast. Spend the day in purifying the mind and body.

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