Hindu religion is a melting pot of customs and traditions. The Hindu calendar is marked with rituals festivals, auspicious muhurta, etc. almost every day of the month. This article provides you insights into the Ekadashivrat, its auspicious dates, procedure, significance and benefits of Ekadashi Vrat, and various other aspects. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

What is Ekadashi Vrat?

Ekadashi is a combination of two words Eka and Dashi which stands for ‘Eleven’ in Sanskrit. The Ekadashi fast is one of the most significant fasts as per the Hindu calendar and is observed by Hindus and Jains. Ekadashi is also known as Tholi Ekadashi in some parts of India. 

The festival is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and devotees observe a partial/complete or stricter Nirjala (without water) fast on this day. The Ekadashi fast spans three days starting from Dashami (tenth day) and ending on Dwadashi (twelfth day). The devotees consume a single meal at noon on Dashami to avoid the presence of food that remains on the day of fasting (Ekadashi). The fast is broken on the Dwadashi (twelfth day) after completing the puja rituals.

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It is also believed that the water in our bodies is influenced by the lunar phases and can cause imbalances in the body. Abstaining from food and cleansing oneself during the Ekadashi time is believed to be beneficial to the body as it protects the body from any negative effects of the lunar phases on the body.

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Ekadashi Days and Presiding deity

According to the Vedic calendar, there are 24 Ekadashi days in a year with two extra Ekadashi observed during the leap year making it a total of 26 Ekadashi days. Every Ekadashi day worships the presiding deity of Lord Vishnu known in various names and forms and also holds specific significance attached to it. The recommended puja rituals and practices may also vary according to each Ekadashi day which is assumed to benefit the devotees undertaking the vrat. People may observe a strict or partial fast and should refrain from consuming rice, grains, and beans. Those undertaking a partial fast may consume milk and fruits.


Vedic lunar month (Gregorian calendar) Presiding deity Krishna Paksha Ekadashi  Shukla Paksha Ekadashi 
Chaitra (March–April) Ram Vishnu PapamochiniEkadashi Kamada Ekadashi
Vaisakha (April-May) Madhusudana (Vishnu) Varuthini Ekadashi Mohini Ekadashi
Jyestha (May-June) Trivikrama (Vishnu) Apara Ekadashi Nirjala Ekadashi
Ashaada (June-July) Vaamana Yogini Ekadashi Devashayani Ekadashi
Shravana (July-August) Sridhar Kamika Ekadashi Shravana Putrada Ekadashi
Bhadrapada (August-September) Hrishikesh (Vishnu) Annada Ekadashi Paarshwa Ekadashi
Ashwin (September – October) Padmanabha Indira Ekadashi PashankushaEkadashi
Karthik (October – November) Damodara Rama Ekadashi Prabodhini Ekadashi
Marghashirsha/Agrahayana (November-December) Keshava Utpanna Ekadashi Mokshada Ekadashi/Vaikunta Ekadashi
Pausha (December –January) Naarayana(Vishnu/Krishna) Saphala Ekadashi Pausha Putrada Ekadashi/Vaikunta Ekadashi
Magha (January – February) Madhava Shattila Ekadashi Bhaimi Ekadashi/Jaya Ekadashi
Phalguna (February-March) Govinda (Krishna) Vijaya Ekadashi Amalaki Ekadashi
Adhika month (once in 2-3 years) Purushottama Padmini Visuddha Ekadashi ParamaaShuddha Ekadashi

Significance of Ashadi and Vaikuntha Ekadashi

Of the 24 Ekadashi fasts observed in a year, Ashadi Ekadashi and Vaikuntha Ekadashi are the most significant Ekadashi days. The Ashadi Ekadashi or Maha Ekadashi is observed in the month of Ashada during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon). It is believed that Lord Vishnu goes into a deep meditative state (Yoga Nidra) at the passing of the Ashadi Ekadashi and wakes up after four months on Prabodhini Ekadashi.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi is observed during the Shukla Paksha in the month of Margashirsha. Vishnu devotees believe that ‘VaikunthaDwaram’ also known as ‘the gate to the Lord’s Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day. This festival eve is celebrated with great fervor by arranging special prayers and yajnas at Vishnu temples around the world. 

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Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat Katha

Each of the 26 Ekadashi days has a ‘VratKatha’ associated with it which describes the reason why the fast is undertaken and what are the benefits of undertaking the specific vrats. The vratkatha of Nirjala Ekadashi is one among them. Legend has it that Bheema, the second of the Pandava brothers was fond of eating and failed to control his hunger. His hunger pangs did not allow him to perform the Ekadashi fasting with utmost sincerity as his brothers and Draupadi. This put him in a fix and he was saddened by the thought that by not observing Ekadashi Vrat, he was disrespecting Lord Vishnu.

To seek a solution to his dilemma Bheema approached Maharishi Vyasa for help who advised him to undertake the Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat once a year. Maharishi Vyasa also explained to Bheema how performing one NirjalaVratwas equivalent to undertaking twenty-four Ekadashis of the year. This is also one of the prime reasons why Nirjala Ekadashi also came to be known as Bhimsen Ekadashi or Pandava Ekadashi. Similarly, every Ekadashi Vrat Katha mentions the significance of undertaking the vrat, and devotees recite these vrat stories while undertaking the fast.

How to do Ekadashi Vrat?

The Ekadashi vrat must be taken with utmost pious and pure mind. By following the rituals appropriately, the devotees are absolved of their sins and shall attain Vaikunthapura. The rituals are as below:

On Ekadashi day, one must wake up early before sunrise, take a bath and wear clean clothes. Clean the puja area and decorate the puja area with flowers and decorations. Place the idols and decorate them with sandalwood paste, flowers, and light an incense stick. Take a vow (Sankalp) in the puja room or the temple and light an oil lamp. Perform the puja by reciting the Vishnu mantra “On NamoBhagavateVasudevaya” and start meditation. The devotees must abstain from consuming food and water the entire day.

A Jagran is also held where the devotees stay awake the entire night reciting the mantras and hymns in praise of Lord Vishnu and also recite the associated ‘VratKatha’ for each Ekadashi. The fast is concluded the next day by taking a bath early before sunrise and performing the puja. After worshipping the Lord, the devotees offer donations to the Brahmanas, poor and needy in cash and/or kind. After performing the final aarti, the puja is concluded and the devotee partakes food and breaks their fast.

Ekadashi Vrat Vidhi and Ekadashi Fasting rituals

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The Ekadashi vrat requires following certain food restrictions. The longstanding rule has been that individuals must avoid peas, grains, and any type of cereals. Milk products, fruits, and root vegetables are on the list of permissible edibles. People undertaking the Ekadashi Vrat must not consume any sort of meat, liquor, or tobacco products during the fasting period.

Dos and Don’ts of Ekadashi fast

  • Avoid consuming rice, peas, grains, or any type of cereals.
  • You can have limited portions of milk, fruits, dry fruits, roots, and vegetables.
  • Do not pluck Tulsi leaves during Ekadashi Vrat as it is said that Lord Vishnu is offered Tulsi on Ekadashi and Dwadashi. It is forbidden in Hindu scriptures.
  • Do not use powdered asafoetida (hing) in any preparation, as it generally contains grains.
  • On Ekadashi Vrat non-veg (meat, fish, eggs), mushrooms, liquor, intoxicants (cigarettes, tobacco), and other tamasic food are strictly prohibited. 

Breaking an Ekadashi Vrat fast

While the Ekadashi fast starts from Dashami, it is concluded on Dwadashi day (the twelfth day) after sunrise. Ekadashi fasts except for Nirjala fast can be concluded by consuming grains. While following the Nirjala fast, devotees must conclude their fast with non-grain items like milk or fruits.

Who should observe Ekadashi Vrat?

Ekadashi Vrat is safe as a cleansing ritual for everyone unless any medical condition prevents the devotees from fasting for a given period. If you have any concerns about whether Ekadashi Vrat is safe for you, please check with your doctor about your condition. As indicated by sacred writings, from the age of eight to the age of eighty, all individuals should fast on Ekadashi Vratdays.

Ekadashi Vrat Mantras

Reciting ‘Om Narayana Vidmahe, VasudevayaDhimahi, Thanno Vishnu Prachodayat’ is said to benefit devotees largely. It is also recommended that there be prayers during the evening, which invoke Lord Vishnu. Chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra 108 times is also said to reap rich benefits and bring about a certain calming effect on the body. Chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama and Vishnu Chalisa also benefits the devotees.

Ekadashi Vrat/Fast Benefits

In addition to the physical benefits of fasting, fasting on Ekadashi also offers spiritual benefits to the devotees undertaking the fasts.  The Ekadashi fast has greater merit than visiting temples and holy places and offering fire and aswamedha yajnas. A single Ekadashi fast is equivalent to feeding 1000 Brahmanas every day. It provides various physical benefits and helps in the detoxification of the body. It cleanses the bowel system, as well as improves the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, urinary systems. It provides mental and physical strength. It is believed that Lord Vishnu absolves the sins of the devotees who observe the Ekadashi fast. Fasting on Ekadashi is believed to liberate one from the cycle of births and deathsand also attain blessings of Lord Vishnu as a result of the undying faith and love for Lord Vishnu/Krishna.

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