One of the most significant Ekadashis out of all 24 Ekadashis in a year is falling on Thursday, 13th June 2019.
The day is observed without water and any kind of food by the devotees perceiving ‘Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat’.
It is believed that devotees who are unable to observe all 24 Ekadashi fastings in a year, get all benefits of 24 Ekadashis by observing this single Ekadashi fasting.
Nirjala Ekadashi falls during Shukla Paksha of Jyeshtha month. So it is also called as “Jyeshtha Shukla Ekadashi”. This Ekadashi is considered as the most austere and hence the most sacred of all Ekadashis.
Besides being the most rewarding and a medium of granting the virtue gained by the observance of all 24 Ekadashis in the year, this highly pious fast is assumed to be one of the ways to attain ‘Moksha’ (salvation).
There are many legends associated with Nirjala Ekadashi. Due to one of the most popular legends in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, the day is also known as Bhima Ekadashi or Pandava Ekadashi.
Bhima was the second and strongest of the five Pandava brothers from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was a voracious eater and was not able to control his desire of having food. So except Bhima, all Pandava brothers along with Draupadi used to observe all Ekadashi fastings in a year.
Bhima was very upset as he was dishonouring Lord Vishnu by not keeping Ekadashi fasts. He met Maharishi Vyasa to find some solution to this problem.
Sage Vyasa advised Bhima to observe single Nirjala Ekadashi fasting to compensate for not observing all other Ekadashi fastings in a year. Finally Bhima attained the virtue of all 24 Ekadashis by observing a single Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat.
Significant facts about Nirjala Ekadashi:
· It provides virtue of all 24 Ekadashis.
· It washes away all sins.
· It grants happiness, prosperity, longevity and salvation.
· It is equal to going on pilgrimage.
Scientific significance: Nirjala Ekadashi happens before monsoon and therefore it helps in cleansing the body and prepare it for the rainy season.
As on all Ekadashis, this Ekadashi too is dedicated to Lord Vishnu with hymns and prayers performed in his name. The 24 hours long fasting starts from sunrise on Nirjala Ekadashi day to sunrise the next day. In the evening before Nirjala Ekadashi day, that is on the 10th lunar day, a prayer known as ‘Sandhya Vandanam’ is performed and after this puja devotees take only one meal that too without rice as rice eating is prohibited on this day. After this meal, the strict fast begins and continues throughout Ekadashi.
Rituals to be performed on Nirjala Ekadashi
· Get up early in the morning and have a sacred bath. Offer prayers to Lord Vishnu and seek his grace.
· Offer a Panch-Amrit bath (Abhishek) to the idol of Lord Vishnu or Saligram. Panch-Amrit consists of raw cow milk, pure honey, cow ghee, fresh curd and sugar. Mix all ingredients well and prepare Panch-Amrit. After Panch-Amrit bath, wash the idol with clean water and Gangajal and then dress it in royal finery.
· Offer flowers, incense, lamp, hand fan and water to the idol.
· Chant bhajans, Vishnu Sahasranama and other shlokas dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
· Donate clothes, food grains, umbrellas, earthen pitchers or pots containing clean drinking water, fruits and cold drinks.
· In the evening, worship Vishnu with Durva grass.
· Visit nearby temple and observe jagran at night.
People fast and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu on this day. This fast is extremely difficult to follow as it falls in the hot Indian summer. It is considered as the strictest of all Ekadashis. Nir-Jala literally means without water that too on a very hot summer day. Taking food is also prohibited on this day. However, it goes without saying that it is also the most rewarding of all Ekadashi fasts.