In Sanatana Dharma, there are numerous kinds of fast people follow. The intensity of dedication, respect, and devotion makes the person achieve his aims accordingly. Out of all the 24 kinds of fasts; Nirjala Ekadashi is one of the most difficult but significant.
Nirjala means ‘without water’ and Nirjala Ekadashi fasting is observed without water or any type of food. This is the toughest to follow ritual in Hinduism.
Nirjala Ekadashi fasting falls during Shukla Paksha of Jyeshta month and currently falls in the month of May or June. Nirjala Ekadashi falls just after Ganga Dussehra but in some years Ganga Dussehra and Nirjala Ekadashi might fall on the same day.
On 2017 this festival falls on 5th June.
6th June – 05:28 to 08:13
On Parana Day Dwadashi End Moment = 11:42
Ekadashi Tithi Begins = 08:03 on 4/Jun/2017
Ekadashi Tithi Ends = 09:42 on 5/Jun/2017
Benefits of Nirjala Ekadashi
It is believed that those devotees who are unable to observe all twenty fours Ekadashi fasting in a year should observe single Nirjala Ekadashi. This brings all benefits of twenty-four Ekadashi fasting in a year.
Nirjala Ekadashi according to its mythological story associated is also known as Pandava Ekadashi and Bhimseni or Bhima Ekadashi. Legend says that Bhima, the second Pandava brother who was known for his strength and eating capacities had started this ritual of Nirjala Ekadashi. It was said that Bhima was a voracious eater and was not able to control his desire of having food and hence was not able to observe Ekadashi fasting throughout the year. Except for Bhima, all Pandava brothers and Draupadi used to observe all Ekadashi fasting. Bhima was very guilty about not being able to show his devotion to Lord Vishnu and hence he went to Maharishi Vyasa to find some solution. Sage Vyasa advised Bhima to observe single Nirjala Ekadasi fasting to compensate for not observing all Ekadashi fastings of the year. Due to this legend, Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Bhimseni Ekadashi or Pandava Ekadashi.
Rituals Of Nirjala Ekadashi
Nirjala Ekadashi means fasting without even consuming water. The water-less fast is considered extremely difficult to follow as the day falls in the hot Indian summer and thus, it is deemed as very pious austerity. The fast is observed 24 hours from sunrise on Nirjala Ekadashi to sunrise the next day.
An evening prayer is observed on the day before Nirjala Ekadashi which is known as Sandhyavandanam. After this starts the ritual of fasting. The devotee is however permitted to have a single tiny drop of water as part of the Achamana purification ritual. Water more than that equals breaking the vow.
This form of puja worships Lord Vishnu. An image of Vishnu or a Saligrama stone is bathed with Panchamrita. It is then washed with water and then dressed in royal finery. Flowers, incense, water, and arati are also offered. Devotees meditate on the image of the god. In the evening, they worship Vishnu with durva grass in their hands. Devotees remain awake the whole night and sing praises of Vishnu or meditate on his image. It is also believed that if we perform charity to the Brahmins then good luck is obtained.
Then come’s the rituals of breaking the fast. Parana means breaking the fast. Ekadashi Parana is done after sunrise on next day of Ekadashi fast. It is necessary to do Parana within Dwadashi Tithi unless Dwadashi is over before sunrise. Not doing Parana within Dwadashi is similar to an offense.
At times Ekadashi fasting is suggested on two consecutive days. It is advised that Smartha with family should observe fasting on the first day only. The alternate Ekadashi fasting, which is the second one, is suggested for Sanyasis, widows and for those who want Moksha. When alternate Ekadashi fasting is suggested for Smartha it coincides with Vaishnava Ekadashi fasting day.
Ekadashi fasting on both days is suggested for staunch devotees who seek for love and affection of Lord Vishnu.