How to do Nirjala Ekadashi Fast
What is Nirjala Ekadashi
Nirjala Ekadashi, also known as Pandava Bhima Ekadashi, or Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi, is a Hindu parva and a holy day generally falls on the every 11th lunar day (ekadashi) during Shukla Paksha of Jyeshtha month. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and considered as the most sacred and rewarding of all the 24 ekadashis. People, who are not able to observe all the 24 ekadashis, can observe the one Nirjala Ekadashi fast which is equal to all 24.
Nirjala means water-less, whereas on other ekadashis only food is prohibited, water is allowed, on this day a very strict waterless fast is observed. Summer season makes it very difficult to follow an absolute waterless fast. It is observed for 24 hours from one sunrise to another sunrise.
How to do Nirjala Ekadashi Puja (Vrat)
Ekadashi puja is offered to the Lord Vishnu. Day before Nirjala Ekadashi, evening prayer called Sandhyavandanam is performed. One can also take one meal but without rice as rice eating is prohibited in ekadashis. In the morning, one can simply lit a diya (lamp) and offer fruits and Tulsi leaves to the image of Vishnu or a Saligrama before starting the fast. Traditionally, image of Vishnu or a Saligrama is bathed with Panchamrita – a mixture of five foods: milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar. It is then washed with water and dressed in royal clothing. A hand-fan, flowers, incense, water and diyas (lamps) are offered and aarti is performed with mantras and shlokas. In the evening, worship Vishnu with durva grass in their hands. Devotees meditate on the image of Lord Vishnu. Do the charity to Brahmins (priests) and offer them clothes, food grains, umbrellas, hand-fans, pitchers filled with water, gold etc.
Nirjala Ekadashi Story
Story behind this fast is goes like this, Bhima, one of Pandavas, was very religious but a great lover of food. He wanted to follow all ekadashi fasts, just like all the other Pandavs, but could not control his hunger and scared of the dishonor to Lord Vishnu too. Finally, he approached the sage Vyasa for solution who advised him to observe Nirjala Ekadashi for one day in the year to attain the virtue of all 24 ekadashis.
According to the Markandeya Purana and the Vishnu Purana, the day of Ekadashi in itself is a form of Lord Vishnu. It is said that, after death, devotees who had observed the Nirjala Ekadashi are believed to be taken by messengers of Vishnu to the abode of Vishnu i.e Vaikuntha. Also, devotees who observe this austerity are also blessed with:
- Moksha (salvation)
- Virtue of going on pilgrimage
- Virtue of all 24 Ekadashi
- Washing away all sin