Ekadasi is the 11th day in the lunar cycle, and is an important day that is dedicated to Mahavishnu. On the two ekadasis that come each month, people observe a fast and pray to the Lord.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi, also known as Mukkoti Ekadashi, is an important Hindu festival that is celebrated with great fervor and devotion. The festival is observed on the eleventh day of the waxing moon in the Hindu calendar month of Margashirsha, which usually falls in the months of December or January.
According to the legend, this festival holds a special significance for devotees of Lord Vishnu, as it is believed to be the day when the pathway to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu, is open to all mortal beings. This year, Vaikuntha Ekadashi falls on December 23rd, 2023, and preparations for the festival are already underway in many parts of India and around the world.
The significance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi can be traced back to ancient Hindu scriptures. According to the Vaamana Purana, Lord Vishnu killed Muraasura who was wreaking havoc in all Lokas due to his unique boon of being able to kill just by touch. Having reached Vaikuntha, Mahavishnu asked Muraari if he would like to wage a battle with him. The confused Asura was wondering how and where, when Mahavishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra swiftly severed his head and put an end to him. Since then, Vaikuntha Ekadashi has been celebrated as a day of great importance, with devotees observing a fast and engaging in various religious activities to seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu.
One of the main customs associated with Vaikuntha Ekadashi is observing a fast. Devotees abstain from consuming any food, especially rice, or water for 24 hours, from sunrise on Ekadashi to the following day. The fast is believed to purify the body and soul, and bring about spiritual growth and well-being. It is also considered a way to seek forgiveness for past sins and to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Another important aspect of Vaikuntha Ekadashi is the reading or listening to the sacred scripture, Vishnu Sahasranama, which is a compilation of a thousand names of Lord Vishnu. Many devotees spend the entire day in temples, listening to the recitation of the Vishnu Sahasranama, and engaging in devotional songs and prayers dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The recitation of these holy names is said to bestow divine grace and blessings upon the devotees.
In South India, the festival of Vaikuntha Ekadashi is celebrated with grandeur and fervor in South Indian states. The most famous celebration takes place at the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Bhadrachalam and Sri Rangam where thousands of devotees gather to witness the grand procession of the idol of Lord Vishnu, known as "Swami Pushkarini," around the temple precincts.
Lord Vishnu granted a boon that anyone observing a fast on this day will be granted liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and a place in Vaikuntham. Symbolically, a door is placed at temples on this day for devotees to pass through to Vaikuntham. The event is known as "Vaikuntha Dwara darshanam," which means "the opening of the gates of Vaikuntha."
In other parts of India, Vaikuntha Ekadashi is celebrated with various customs and traditions. Devotees decorate their homes and temples with flowers and mango leaves, and prepare special dishes to offer to Lord Vishnu. The day is also marked by acts of charity and kindness, as it is believed that such deeds bring merit and spiritual fulfillment.
The festival is a time for spiritual reflection, renewal, and seeking divine grace for the year ahead.
Vaikuntha Ekadasi is a time for introspection, worship, and seeking divine grace, and is considered an auspicious occasion for spiritual growth and well-being. As the festival approaches, may we all find peace, joy, and fulfillment in seeking the divine blessings of Lord Vishnu.