9th June 2017 is Nirjala Ekadasi
Nirjala Ekadashi is the most important and significant Ekadashis. As per Hindu calendar Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. So, there are 24 Ekadasis in a year. Ekadashi Vrat is considered highly pious and is assumed to be one of the ways to attain Moksha.
Importance of Nirjala Ekadashi
The greatness of Nirjala Ekadasi was explained by Sage Vyasa.
- It is equal to going on pilgrimage.
- It provides virtue of all 24 Ekadashi.
- It washes away all sin.
- Grants happiness, prosperity, longevity and moksha (salvation).
- This Ekadasi happens before monsoon season and therefore it is also helps in cleansing the body.
How to Observe Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat
Nirjala means without water. Hence, fast is observed without water and food. It is considered as the most strict and hence, most sacred of all Ekadashis. This fast is extremely difficult to follow as it falls in the hot Indian summer. The 24 hours long fast begins from sunrise on Nirjala Ekadashi to sunrise the next day. People fast and offer puja to Lord Vishnu on this day.
The fast begins with Sandhyavandanam – a prayer. This prayer is performed in the evening before Nirjala Ekadashi, i.e. on 10th lunar day. After prayer devotee takes only one meal, without rice (as rice eating is prohibited). The strict fast continuous throughout Ekadashi. It gets over on next morning. Devotees offer prayer, tulsi, fruits, and sweets to Lord Vishnu and then finish their fast.
- Offer Puja to Lord Vishnu and seek his grace.
- Bath the idol of Lord Vishnu with Panchamrit.
- Wash with clean water and then dressed in new clothes.
- Offer flowers, incense, water, lamps and a hand fan.
- In evening, worship Vishnu with Durva grass.
- Visit nearby Vishnu temple and observe Jagran at night.
- Chant bhajans, Vishnu Sahasranama and other slokas dedicated to Lord Vishnu
- Donate clothes, food grains, umbrellas, hand-fans, pitchers filled with water, gold etc.
Story of Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat
Bhimsen – the second Pandava brother and big eater wanted to keep Ekadashi Vrat. All his brothers, wife Draupadi and mother Kunti observed Vrat on 24 Ekadasis throughout the year and request him to do the same. But he was unable to perform the ritual due to unbearable hunger pangs. Bhima, was upset due to his weak determination. He was also sacred of dishonouring to Lord Vishnu. So, when Maharishi Vyasa visited them Bhima asked him to find a solution. Sage Vyasa advised him to observe single Nirjala Ekadasi fasting. This fast would compensate for not observing all Ekadashi fasting in a year. Bhima performed the fast with an ease but on the morning of very next day he became unconscious. Then he offered Ganga water with Tulsi to end up his day fast. Due to this legend Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Bhimseni Ekadashi, Bhima Ekadashi or Pandava Ekadashi.
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