Shayani Ekadashi (lit. "sleeping eleventh") or Maha-ekadashi (lit. "The great eleventh") or Padma 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. This holy day is of special significance to Vaishnavas, followers of Hindu preserver god Vishnu.
It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar - cosmic ocean of milk - on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (lit. "god-sleeping eleventh") or Hari-shayani Ekadashi (lit. "Vishnu-sleeping eleventh") or Shayana Ekadashi. Vishnu finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi - eleventh day of bright fortnight in the Hindu month Kartik (October-November). This period is known as Chaturmas (lit. "four months") and coincides with the rainy season. Thus, Shayani Ekadashi is the beginning of Chaturmas. Devotees start observing the Chaturmas vrata (vow) to please Vishnu on this day.
A fast is observed on Shayani Ekadashi. The fast demands abstainance from all grains, beans, cereals, certain vegetables like onions and certain spices and all kinds of meat and eggs.
In the scripture Bhavishyottara Purana, god Krishna narrates significance of Shayani Ekadashi to Yudhisthira, as the creator-god Brahma narrated the significance to his son Narada once. The story of king Mandata is narrated in this context. The pious king's country had faced drought for three years, but the king was unable to find a solution to please the rain gods. Finally, sage Angiras advised the king to observe the vrata (vow) of Dev-shayani ekadashi. On doing so by the grace of Vishnu, there was rain in the kingdom.
This day, a huge yatra or religious procession of pilgrims culminates at Pandharpur, a town in south Maharashtra, situated on the banks of the Bhima River. Pandharpur is main center of worship of the deity Vithoba, a local form of Vishnu. Thousands of pilgrims come to Pandharpur on this day from different parts of Maharashtra. Some of them carry Palkhis (palanquins) with the images of the saints of Maharashtra. Dnyaneshwar's image is carried from Alandi, Tukaram's from Dehu, Eknath's from Paithan, Nivruttinath's from Trimbakeshwar, Muktabai's from Muktainagar, and Sopan's from Sasvad. These pilgrims are referred to as Warkaris. They sing Abhangas (chanting hymns) of Saint Tukaram and Saint Dnyaneshwar, dedicated to Vithoba.
- ↑ Fasts and Festivals of India (2002) By Manish Verma, p.33. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 817182076X
- ↑ 2.0 2.1  ISKCON