Interesting facts about Ashada Ekadashi festival significance , celebrations

Ashada Ekadashi, also known as Ashadi Ekadashi, Devshayani Ekadashi, Padma Ekadashi, Maha Ekadashi or Shayana Ekadashi, is one of the most auspicious and sacred festivals for the Hindus, especially the Vaishnavas who worship Lord Vishnu as the supreme deity. This festival falls on the eleventh day (Ekadashi) of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu lunar month of Ashada, which corresponds to June or July in the Gregorian calendar.

What is its significance

Ashada Ekadashi is believed to be the day when Lord Vishnu goes to sleep on the cosmic serpent Sheshnag in the ocean of milk (Kshirsagar) for four months, until he wakes up on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi, which is also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi or Devutthana Ekadashi. This period of four months is called Chaturmas, which means four months. During this period, Lord Vishnu is in a state of Yoga Nidra or divine sleep, and hence he is not accessible to his devotees. Therefore, devotees observe various rituals and practices to please him and seek his blessings before he goes to sleep.

Ashada Ekadashi is also considered to be the most important Ekadashi among all the 24 Ekadashis that occur in a year. According to the Padma Purana, Lord Krishna told King Yudhishthira that observing a fast on this day can grant one liberation from all sins and attainment of heaven and salvation. It is also said that this Ekadashi can fulfill all the desires of the devotees and bestow them with wealth, health, happiness and prosperity.

What is its historical relevance

Ashada Ekadashi has a special significance for the followers of the Varkari sect, which is a devotional movement that originated in Maharashtra in the 13th century. The Varkaris are devotees of Lord Vitthal or Vithoba, who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Varkaris undertake an annual pilgrimage called Wari or Dindi from various places in Maharashtra to Pandharpur, where the main temple of Lord Vitthal is located. The pilgrimage culminates on Ashada Ekadashi, when the devotees reach Pandharpur and have a darshan of Lord Vitthal.

The tradition of Wari was started by some of the most revered saints of Maharashtra, such as Sant Dnyaneshwar, Sant Tukaram, Sant Namdev, Sant Eknath and Sant Nivruttinath. These saints composed devotional songs called Abhangs and Bhajans in praise of Lord Vitthal and spread his message of love, devotion and equality among the masses. They also inspired many people to join them in their pilgrimage and worship Lord Vitthal with utmost faith and sincerity.

Interesting facts about Ashada Ekadashi festival significance , celebrations

Who celebrate it

Ashada Ekadashi is celebrated by millions of Hindus across India and abroad, especially by those who belong to the Vaishnava sect or follow the teachings of the Varkari saints. The festival is particularly popular in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where it is known by different names such as Ashadi Ekadashi, Toli Ekadashi or Tholi Ekadasi. The festival is also celebrated by some communities in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

How is it celebrated

The celebration of Ashada Ekadashi involves various rituals and practices that are performed by the devotees to express their love and devotion to Lord Vishnu or Lord Vitthal. Some of these are:

- Fasting: Many devotees observe a strict fast on this day from sunrise to sunset or till next day morning. They abstain from eating any grains, beans, pulses or cereals and consume only fruits, milk or water. Some devotees also observe a partial fast or eat only one meal during the day.
- Puja: Devotees perform puja or worship of Lord Vishnu or Lord Vitthal at their homes or temples. They offer flowers, fruits, incense, lamps and other items to the deity and chant his names and mantras. They also recite or listen to the stories and legends related to this festival from scriptures such as Padma Purana or Bhagavata Purana.
- Abhishek: Devotees perform abhishek or ritual bathing of the idol or image of Lord Vishnu or Lord Vitthal with water, milk, honey, ghee or other liquids. They also decorate the deity with new clothes, ornaments and garlands.
- Bhajan: Devotees sing bhajans or devotional songs in praise of Lord Vishnu or Lord Vitthal. They also listen to the abhangs or bhajans composed by the Varkari saints and join them in their musical procession or kirtan.
- Wari: Devotees participate in the Wari or pilgrimage to Pandharpur, where they walk for hundreds of kilometers, carrying palanquins or palkhis of the Varkari saints. They also carry flags, banners and musical instruments and chant the name of Lord Vitthal along the way. They reach Pandharpur on Ashada Ekadashi and have a darshan of Lord Vitthal at his temple.
- Charity: Devotees perform charity or daan on this day by donating food, clothes, money or other items to the poor, needy or Brahmins. They also feed cows, birds and other animals and respect all living beings as manifestations of Lord Vishnu.

Ashada Ekadashi is a festival that celebrates the bond between the devotee and the Lord, and also between the devotees themselves. It is a festival that teaches the values of faith, devotion, service, compassion and joy. It is a festival that reminds us of our true nature as eternal souls who are part of the supreme soul, Lord Vishnu. It is a festival that inspires us to live a life of righteousness, purity and love.