Shayani Ekadashi (lit. “sleeping eleventh”) or Maha-ekadashi, Bada Ekadashi ( “The great eleventh”) or Prathama-Ekadashi ( “The first eleventh”) or Padma Ekadashi or Devshayani Ekadashi or Devpodhi Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day (Ekadashi) of the bright fortnight (Shukla paksha) of the Hindu month of Ashadha (June – July). Thus it is also known as Ashadhi Ekadashi or Ashadhi. It is known as Tholi Ekadashi in Telugu. This holy day is of special significance to Vaishnavas, followers of the Hindu protector God, Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar – the cosmic ocean of milk – on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi. Lord Vishnu goes to sleep on this day and wakes up after four months on Prabodhini Ekadashi-eleventh day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu month Kartik Masam (October–November) this period is known as “Chaturmas” (“four months”) which coincides with the rainy season.
This year, this auspicious day is celebrated on 20th Jul’21
What is Devshayani Ekadashi–
The eleventh day in the full moon quarter of Ashadh is observed as Devshayani Ekadashi. Devshayani Ekadashi is an important day as Lord Vishnu is believed to attain Yoga Nidra, a state of complete mental relaxation. This is often regarded as the time when he goes to sleep on the cosmic ocean of milk, the Ksheersagar. So no auspicious activity is carried out during this period, mostly marriages. According to Hindu Mythology, Hari Shayani Ekadashi begins a night before the actual date, i.e., the tenth lunar day of Ashadha. There are no particular festivities, but the day is celebrated by worshipping the idols of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi early in the morning. Devotees offer flowers, light lamps, and make Kheer – a milk-based sweet to offer to the holy deities and chant hymns and shlokas the entire day.
Significance of the day–
The puja assumes significance as Chaturmas or a holy period of four months in the Hindu calendar, starts on this day. The four months of Chaturmas, including Shravan, Bhadra, Ashwin and Kartik (corresponding to primarily July, August, September and October), marks all the key Hindu festivals like the Janmashthami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Durga Puja and Diwali.
Mythological History Behind the Devshayani Ekadashi–
Once there was a king in the Sunavans, the ruler of Mandhata. He was honest, peace-loving and valiant. The king looked after every need of his people and made sure his kingdom was always filled with joy and prosperity. Everything was going excellent, and there were no concerns of scarcity or poverty in his reign. Until one day when a deadly famine hit his country, leaving everyone in hunger and despair. It took the king by surprise as nothing of such degree has ever occurred in his empire. He decided to find a solution to do away with the famine. His pursuit brought him deep into the forests where he came across the Ashram of one of Lord Brahma’s sons, Angira. He prayed the holy sage to put his state out of such misery. The accomplished recluse suggested the king observes Devshayani Ekadashi. The king followed every word he said and started fasting for the same. In no time, his kingdom got rid of famine and drought, and peace and prosperity prevailed once again.
The Holy Ritual of Devshayani Ekadashi Vrat–
Devshayani Ekadashi is known for the fasting ritual. It begins with waking up in the Brahmamuhurta, an hour and a half before the sunrise which is followed by a bath and meditation. After that, all the essentials for the religious rituals are prepared and the idols are placed over a red cotton cloth in the Ishaan Kon, the holy corner as per Vastu. Then, water is sprinkled over the idols of Lord Ganesha and Vishnu and they are offered tilak along with flowers and kheer. Lamps are lighted simultaneously to symbolize the presence of heavenly energy of knowledge, truth and wisdom. Aratis, and prayers are sung this entire time to invoke the blessings of almighty Vishnu. In the end, one is supposed to eat the traditional satvik food prepared at home, and the leftover is disposed of in the Southern corner of the house.
This completes the vow of Devshayani Ekadashi Vrat. The scriptures from Narada Purana state that one who follows the exact ritual on this day salvages himself and cleanses his Karma.
Devshayani Ekadashi Vrat significance–
1) By keeping a vrat on Devshayani Ekadashi, a devotee can seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu for a blissful life on Earth.
2) Those who wish to find salvation (Moksha) by getting rid of the vicious cycle of birth, death and rebirth, also pray to Lord Vishnu.
3) By sincerely observing a vrat on this day, a devotee can free himself of the guilt of committing wrong.
4) Ekadashi vrat is meant for introspection. Apart from cleansing the body, the vrat also rids the mind of negative and evil thoughts.
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