Vaikunta Ekadashi is celebrated on the 11Th day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Margazhi as per Tamil calendar and in Telugu calendar, it is called Pushya Shukla Paksha.Malayalis call this Ekadashi as Swarga Vathil Ekadashi. Vaikunta Ekadashi is also known as Mukkoti Ekadashi.
It is celebrated in all Southern states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
This year, Vaikunta Ekadashi falls on December 29.
Though the vaishnavites deem it sacred to fast on all 24 Ekadashi in a year, they regard this Shukla Paksha Ekadashi in Margazhi (Vaikunta Ekadashi) as the most sacred, prominent and powerful to seek the benedictions of Lord Vishnu through prayer, fasting, keeping vigil and singing in praise of Him. The devotees strongly believe that by passing through the Vaikunta Dwaram of Vishnu temples on this day, they will be able to reach Vaikuntam and get liberated from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
In Padma Purana, there is an incident narrated with reference to Ekadashi. Ekadashi is actually the female energy formed of Lord Vishnu. There was a demon called Muran who gave innumerable sufferings to the Devas. When the Devas approached Lord Shiva, they were directed to Lord Vishnu for relief. Vishnu realized that He needed a special weapon to destroy this demon.
He went into a cave and was taking rest. That time Muran came there and tried to slay Vishnu. The female energy from Vishnu emerged and burnt Muran to ashes with her glance. Vishnu was pleased with her act and named her Ekadashi.
There is an incident related to Vaikunta Ekadashi as mentioned in Vishnu Purana. Lord Vishnu opened the gate of Vaikuntam on this Ekadashi to two demons and appeared on the entrance. They prayed to Lord that whoever listens to their story and enters Vaikunta Dwaram will get relieved of their sins. Such devotees will reach Vaikuntam and get liberated from the cycle of birth.
In North India, Vaikunta Ekadashi is celebrated as Pausha Putrada Ekadashi. It is considered very auspicious to fast on this day, since it drives away one’s sins. Those who do not have a child fast on Putrada Ekadashi to get a child.
The devotees who fast on Pausha Putrada Ekadashi gain fame and knowledge in arts and education. Even hearing the story of Putrada Ekadashi brings the merit equivalent to performing Aswamedha Yagna.
There is a mythological story related to Putrada Ekadashi. It is narrated by Sri Krishna to Arjuna.
In ancient times, there was a king called Sukethuman who ruled over the kingdom of Badravathi. He and his queen Saivya did not have children. The king was much worried that he might not have an issue who would do obeisance to his forefathers.
One day, the king went to the forest for hunting. He went in search of animals for hunting but found lots of birds and tress in different hues in the forest. When it became noon, he was hungry and thirsty and wanted to have food. So, he went deeper into the forest and there he found some maharishis staying in an ashram.
The king went and paid respects to the rishis and enquired the reason for their stay there. They said that it was Putrada Ekadashi and they were going to fast on that day. They also said that a person who fasts on the day will get children in his life. The king expressed his grievance to the rishis. They advised him to fast on that day so that he would beget a son soon. The king did the same and got a child very soon.
So powerful is the fasting on Putrada Ekadashi.
In Srirangam Ranganathar temple, Lord Vishnu is decorated with an armor of Ratnangi and He is brought to the thousand-pillared hall from the sanctum sanctorum through Paramapatha Vassal on the day of Vaikunta Ekadashi.
Those who pass through this Vaikunta Vassal (which is open only on Vaikunta Ekadashi) are sure to reach Vaikuntam.Pagal Patthu (Day celebrations) and Raa Patthu (Night celebrations) are the grand celebrations in the temple during this time.
In Tirupathi Balaji temple, there is Vaikunta Dwaram encircling the sanctum sanctorum. Devotees who pass through that Dwaram on Vaikunta Ekadashi will reach Vaikuntam through the Dwaram.
In Badrachala temple also, Vaikunta Ekadashi is observed in a very grand manner.
Before the day of Vaikunta Ekadashi, people take only lunch.
On the day of Vaikunta Ekadashi, they fast throughout the day and keep vigil at night.
Some don’t even take water.
Those who are not able to fast completely can take fruits and milk, avoiding food made of rice.
The devotees spend Ekadashi night in japa, meditation, reciting prayers and slokas like Vishnu Sahasra Nama or chanting His divya namas like ‘Om Namo Narayana’.
Next day, they break their fast after visiting the temple in the early morning for the darshan of Lord Vishnu through Swarga Vassal Thirappu.
Thus, one can attain salvation through fasting and keeping vigil on Vaikunta Ekadashi.
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