Vaikunta Ekadashi, occurs in the Hindu calendar month of Marghazhi or Margashira or Margasirsa (corresponding to late December – January in English calendar). Vaishnavism (Worship of Lord Vishnu) culture believes that ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to Lord’s Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day.
The Margashirsha shukla paksha ekadashi in lunar calendar is known as a ‘Mokshada Ekadashi’. People also know that as a vaikuntaekadashi. However vaikunta ekadashi in Sri Rangam Temple (Tamil Nadu) is in the solar margashira month (Margazhi). This year it was on 7th Jan, 2009.
Vaikunta Ekadashi Legend
According to Puranas, Lord Vishnu opened the gate of Vaikuntam (his abode) for two demons in spite of them being against the Lord. They also asked for the boon that those listen to their story and see the image of Lord coming out of the Dwar called Vaikunth Dwar(Doors of Heaven) they reach Vaikunth as well! Temples all over the India makes a door kind of structure on this day for devotees to pass through that.
According to Vishnu Purana, fasting on Vaikunta Ekadashi is holier to fasting on the remaining 23 Ekadashis of the (Hindu) year. However according to Vaishnava tradition fasting is mandatory on all Ekadashi of both Sukla paksha and Krishna paksha.
In the Padma Purana, the female energy of Lord Vishnu slayed demon Muran in the form of a damsel named “Ekadashi” and protects `Devas’. Hence those who worship `Ekadashi’ on the day of her victory over Muran would reach `Vaikunth’ (His abode).
Significance of Ekadashi
Ekadashi is the eleventh day of a fortnight belonging to a lunar month. It refers to the eleventh day of a fortnight belonging to a lunar month. There are two fortnights in a lunar month—the bright and the dark. So, Ekadasi occurs twice in a month, in the bright fortnight and the dark fortnight. Its observance is an astrological phenomenon and it is observed due to this relation we have with some of the planets in the system.
In the Rig-veda, the sun is identified with the soul of the universe as well as the soul of the individual, the centre of our personality; hence the sun is called Atmakaraka.
On the Ekadashi day the sun and the moon influence the human mind to attain high levels of concentration and meditation. Hence, Seekers and Yogis take advantage of these two days and try to practise deep meditation. Vaishnavas treat Ekadasi as a very holy day and also observe a fast on that day
The special feature of Ekadasi, as most people know it, is a fast, abstinence from diet. There is really no intrinsic connection between fast and meditation, but there is some advantage in keeping the light and the stomach free from excessive metabolic function.
Thus the observance of Ekadasi has many advantages—physical, astral, spiritual—and because this day has connection with the relation of the mind with its abode together with the moon, you feel mysteriously helped in your meditation and contemplation,—mysteriously because you cannot know this consciously.
Special prayers, yagnas, discourses and speeches are arranged at Vishnu/Venkateshwara temples across the world on this auspicious day.
Restricted Foods on Ekadasi
Tomatoes, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, beets, bitter melon (karela), loki, parmal, toroi, kunli, drumsticks, bindi (ladies’ fingers) and banana flowers.
Peas, chickpeas and all types of beans, including products made from beans (e.g., papadams, tofu, tempeh)
All leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, salads, cabbage) and leafy herbs like parsley, coriander leaves, celery and curry leaves.
Grains (e.g. millet, barley, farina, pasta, rice, corn) and all types of flour made from grains and beans (e.g., rice flour, chickpea flour, urad dahl flour)
Starches from corn or grains, and products made from or mixed with these starches like baking soda, baking powder, certain soft drinks with corn syrup, custard, certain yoghurts and puddings, certain varieties of cream and cottage cheese, certain sweets and candies, and tapioca balls.
Oils made from grains (e.g. corn oil, mustard oil, sesame oil) and products fried in these oils (e.g., fried nuts, potato chips and other fried snack foods), honey, and sweets made with starches.
Spices Used on Ekadasi
Black pepper, fresh ginger, pure salt and fresh turmeric, all taken from a new and clean package.
Spices Not Used on Ekadasi
Hing (asafetida), sesame seeds, cumin, fenugreek, mustard, tamarind, fennel, cardamom and nutmeg.