Vaikuntha Ekadashi – Meaning, Celebration, Story, Importance

Vaikuntha Ekadashi a festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu is one of the most prominent festivals of not only Andhra Pradesh but also the whole of southern India. It holds utmost importance and reverence for Vaishnavites. This festival comes along with Mokshada Ekadashi and Putrada Ekadashi.As Vaishnavites worship Lord Vishnu on this day, Shaivites pray to Lord Shiva together. This spiritual and religious day occurs during the Dhanur or Margazhi month according to the Hindu calendar and in the months of December and January according to the Gregorian calendar.

Meaning

Vaikuntha Ekadashi sometimes also regarded as the Ekadasi is celebrated twice a year once in January and another in December. Ekadasi is the eleventh day of the fortnight of the waning moon that occurs two times a month. But the Ekadasi that is observed in the month of Margashirsha (December – January) during the fortnight of waxing moon is known as Vaikuntha Ekadashi and holds a significant place in the hearts of all the devotees of Lord Vishnu.

This festival coincides with Mokṣadā Ekādaśī and Putrada Ekādaśī and is generally associated with Shukla Paksha ((i.e. 11th lunar day).

This festival is based on a popular belief by’ Vaishnava’ that ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the Lord’s Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day. This day holds the utmost importance among the worshipers of Lord Vishnu and is celebrated with grandeur in the beautiful Vishnu temples of southern India with special prayers,yagnas, speeches, and discourses. The ‘Shaiva’ (worshipers of Lord Shiva) call this day ‘Trikoti Ekadashi’ and pray Lord Shiva.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi’s Celebration 

During this festival, devotees observe Ekadashi Vrata and remember the Supreme God by continuously enchanting his name and singing his glories. The festival starts with the chanting of Venkateshwara Suprabhata Stotram by the devotees to wake up Lord Vishnu. A grand Aarti by the priests takes place after that. The Lord is offered beautiful fragrant flowers, ghee lamps, and incense. A grand abhishekam is also performed for the almighty.

Devotees and priests enchant various prayers including Brahma Samhita. Lord Vishnu is also bathed with panchamrita, panchagavya, fruit juices, herbal water, and other spiritual items. The whole temple is decorated with beautiful flowers and other items and the main gate is something worth looking for.

The main gate of all the temples is decorated as Vaikuntha Dwara. The ‘Vaikuntha Dwara’ is often referred to as “the gate of the Lord’s inner sanctuary” is opened on that day. The prominent deities of  Sri Radha Krishnachandra are taken to the Vaikuntha Dwara and seated on the swing.

 Vaikuntha Ekadashi Story 

Vishnu Purana mentions the importance of fasting at the time of Ekadashi. It also mentions that fasting in Vaikuntha Ekadashi is equal to the fasting in the remaining 23 Ekadashis of the year According to Vaishnava, fasting in Ekadashi is mandatory in both cases of Shukla Paksha and Krishana Paksha.

They also believe that fasting in Ekadashi is the most holier religious observation and washes away all the sins. There lies an interesting story behind this prominent festival. Vishnu being the almighty was always kind to all the creatures. He opened the door of Vaikuntham for the demons despite them being their enemy.

Surprised by this kind action of Lord Vishnu, the demons seek the blessings that anyone who will listen to this story and could visualize the image of Vishnu coming out from the door (Vaikunth Dwar) also arrives in Vaikunth. It is because of this reason door structure plays an important role in Vaikunth Ekadashi. Vishnu Temples all across India make such giant door-like structures on this day so that devotees can through it.

Another tale related to this festival says that Vishnu’s female energy killed the demon Muran to protect ‘Devas’.This whole incident happened on the 11th day of the lunar month. Lord Vishnu was impressed by this act and he named the goddess as ‘Ekadashi’ and gave her a blessing that those who will worship ‘Ekadashi’ on the day of her victory over Muran will arrive at ‘Vaikunth’ ( to the almighty). Vaikuntha Ekadashi is one of the most auspicious days for Hindus and somehow explains the concept of the cycle of birth and death.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi Importance 

Padma Purana states the importance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. All the Devas worried about the destruction caused by the demon Muran went to Lord Shiva who directed them to Lord Vishnu. A battle was fought between Shri Vishnu and Demon and Vishnu realized that this demon is so powerful and will be killed only by some special power or weapon. Vishnu then created a goddess named Haimavati in Bhadrikashrama.

When Muran tried to kill Vishnu while he was sleeping, the female power inside lord Vishnu came outside and burned Muran’s eyes. Sri Vishnu was happy with that goddess as she saved his life. He named that goddess ‘’Ekadashi’.He asked her a blessing. Ekadashi told Vishnu that anyone who will fast on this day will be free from all his sins and will get a happier and healthier life.

Vishnu approved her wish and declared that anyone who will fast on this day and will worship ‘Ekadashi’ will go to ‘Vaikuntha’.And this how this festival ‘ Vaikuntha Ekadashi’ is born and is celebrated in southern India with grandeur.

The Muran demon is symbolic of all the bad qualities that humans possess be it lust, arrogance, inertia, etc. One needs to overcome these to attain purity and to come closer to the almighty. To realize self-consciousness and to attain moksha and liberation of soul, mind purity is very important.

Purity of mind depends upon our lifestyle which includes our eating habits. Fasting helps in the purification of the stomach as well as the mind. Calming of mind means attaining freedom or peace. And this is possible only when we will attain full control over ourselves. By keeping ‘Ekadashi Vrat’ the mind is absorbed by Vishnu after strenuous fasting and control.

There is also a major reason that lies behind not eating the rice in Ekadashi. The demon Muran used to live in a rice field. Also, rice makes one feel heavy and also hinders alertness. This states that eating rice in Ekadashi will attract negative energies and will badly affect the progress towards consciousness and awareness. It is believed that performing these rituals on such an auspicious day of ‘Ekadashi’ is of utmost importance and brings purifies one’s soul and brings one closer to the almighty.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi Vrat (Fasting)

Fasting on the day of Ekadashi is one of the prominent rituals of this festival. People have to fast all day to fulfill the whole purpose of it. Lord Vishnu is being worshipped on this day and Japa and Dhyana (meditation) are being performed by the devotees. Some devotees even fast on the day before the Ekadashi that is ‘Dashami’.

The day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi involves the performance of meditation and prayers.

Devotees fast the whole day to attain moksha and to seek a place in Vaikuntha (Lord’s Vishnu’s abode). The fasting starts early in the morning. The devotees woke up early, take a bath, wear fresh clean clothes and go to the temple to seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

There is a belief that on this day the Vaikuntha Dwaram or the Vaikuntha Vaasal (the Vaikundam Gates) remain open. Fasting is not complete fasting. Devotees are allowed to eat certain kinds of foods to keep their metabolism and well-being correct. This involves milk, fruits, and some vrat recipes. Rice, onion, garlic, meat, wheat, lentils, and legumes are strictly not allowed for consumption in Ekadashi.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi Celebration In Andhra Pradesh 

Across India, this day is celebrated with fervor and devotion in Vishnu’s temples in India.in India especially in south India. This festival is also celebrated with grandeur in Andhra Pradesh. All the temples of Lord Vishnu in Andhra Pradesh are decorated beautifully with flowers and other things to welcome Lord Vishnu.

The celebration involves worshiping Lord Vishnu with Tulsi leaves, offering prasad (fruits and vegetables), reciting of Vishnu Puranam, Shri Vishnu Sahasranamam, and Narayan Kavacham, singing of Bhajans, and staying awake the whole night listening to Vishnu’s stories. Some devotees even give Bhagvat Gita to Brahmins as a token of love.

The best Vaikuntha Ekadashi is celebrated in Srirangam and Tirupati Temple and is definitely worth watching. Tirupati Temple in Andhra Pradesh has the biggest celebration every year with thousands of devotees gathering in the temple.

Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh- also known as Tirupati Tirumala is one of the richest temples in the entire country. The Vaikuntha Ekadashi Celebration in Tirupati is not only famous in India but the entire World. Sita Ramachandraswamy temple, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh is also one of the prominent temples that host the best Vaikunth Ekadashi. In this temple, not only the idols of Lord Vishnu are worshipped but also the idols of Lord Ram and Lakshmana are taken out in a procession.

Vaikunth Ekadashi is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated by Hindus. This day is equivalent to the holiest rituals among the Hindus and holds utmost importance especially among the people of southern India.

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