Ashadhi Ekadashi or Shayani Ekadashi Introduction and Significance
Ashadhi Ekadashi or Shayani Ekadashi is an important and auspicious day in the Hindu religion. The Ekadashi of the Shukla paksha of Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar marks the Ashadhi Ekadashi. It is significant because the worship of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu is given primary importance on the night of the Ashadhi Ekadashi.
Devotees observe fast on this day, and Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi’s idols are worshiped the entire night. Many people start the ritual of observing fast on every Ekadashi of the chaturmaas, or the four-month rainy season period. On this day, Lord Vishnu proceeds for his 4 months sleeping on the Shesha Naga in the Kheersagar and wakes up on Prabodhini Ekadashi in the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar. The sleep coincides with the rainy season, and many devotees take up the fast to please Lord Vishnu for his blessings.
The ritual of observing fasts to please the Lord started during King Mandata, as narrated by Lord Krishna to Yudhishthir in the Bhavishya Purana. The king’s country was stricken with drought for three years, and the king could not find a solution. Then, at the advice of sage Angiras, the king observed a fast on the Ashadhi Ekadashi to please Lord Vishnu. By Vishnu’s grace, the kingdom was finally relieved as rains finally returned.
A huge procession is conducted on this day in Pandharpur in Maharashtra to revere Lord Vithhal, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. The devotees gather in large numbers from various places all across the country to participate in the Pandharpur Ashadhi Ekadashi Waari Yatra, as it is popularly known.
The pilgrims carry palkis and images of the saints of Maharashtra in those palkis and carry out the religious procession to pay homage to their deity, Lord Vitthal.
Ashadhi Ekadashi is also known as Hari Shayani Ekadashi as it marks the beginning of the four-month-long slumber of Lord Vishnu. It is observed that all auspicious ceremonies are suspended during this period and commence once again after the Lord awakens in Kartik month. The day is very important for Hindu devotees, and various fasts and pujas are conducted to maintain the blessings of the Gods on mankind.