Introduction: The pious occasion of ‘Vaikuntha Ekadashi’ is renowned as ‘Mokshada’ or ‘bestowing liberation’. The heart of lord Vishnu is enormous to such extent that every creature can submerge into it but on some precious days; the deity opens the gate wide to all devotees for accessing the Vaikuntha-lok (the abode of lord Vishnu) and meet the salvation (moksha). On the very same occasion, gods and demons churned the ocean some 1,000 year ago for drawing the elixir or Amrita (a nectar to assigning immortality). Thus, deity gives chances to its every devotee to have a sweet taste of that immortal drink. The holy eve draws devotees closer to deity in the most personal way marked by fasting, devotion and pilgrimage to temples. It is assumed that during this period divine celestials are most attentive to the pleas of human.
Testimonial Scriptures: Mahabharata, Vidhnu Puran
Occurrence: ‘Ekadashi’ is counted as eleventh lunar day of every fortnight. Vaikunth Ekadashi is the supreme of all Ekadashis that fall about a dozen times in a year. Vaikuntha Ekadashi occurs in the bright fortnight of December or January and ‘Mrigashira’ as per Hindu calendar.
Rituals: Hindu temples, especially Tirupati and Pittsburg, are thronged by devotees since early morning after taking bath and then, maintain complete or partial fasting. Some people even observe ‘mauna’ (silence) while summoning lord Vishnu through worshipping. But the commonest trend followed by people as a customary ritual is to live on only water or milk the entire day.
The winter solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere establishing the natural circle of longer and warmer days along with agrarian prosperity. This eve is a moment to joy by adorning the floors with beautiful rangolis patterns using coloured rice.
Fasting is broken on Dwadashi (the next day of ekadashi) with partaking of fruits, herbs & milk. Indian gooseberry is defined as a wonder fruit ideal as an energetic supplement to start the fast.
Temple Observance: In Srirangam temple, the Ekadashi celebration spans for 21 days and the observances are divided into day and night. Lord Vishnu is decorated with diamond-studded armour that is introduced to the 1,000 pillared Hall through called Swarga Vaasal assuming as Heaven’s entrance that is believed to be opened once in a year.
Legend: As the narration of an ancient scripture goes, ‘Ekadashi’, the goddess, sprung out of lord Vishnu’s mind for defending the have-nots and people in desperate need since she was conceived as a protectress and conserver of righteousness. Once she was frightened to fall prey to evil forces and ignorance before whom she denied to surrender. Lord Vishnu offered her boon of riches, fame and valuables that are categorized as mortals. Declining those all luxuries and momentary comforts, she asked for a share of blessings to be showered over the devotees who worship her for fulfilling their wish by fasting on the eleventh day of the moon that opens as a passage to attain Moksha through celestial gates.
In epic Mahabharata, King Yudhishthira (the eldest Pandava) praised ‘Ekadashi’ while reciting her eminence. Thus, he recommended fasting for appeasing and empowering strength to ‘Ekadashi’ since it’s an effective ancient spiritual practice.