Apara Ekadashi is one of the most auspicious day according to the Hindu traditional astrology. This auspicious day is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Amongst all the Ekadashis observed in an entire year, Apara Ekadashi is considered to be the most glorious and the best one. This festival is also known by various other names such as, Achala Ekadashi, BHadrakali Ekadashi, Vaishakh Vadi Ekadashi or the Jalkrida Ekadashi.
This ekadashi is celebrated in the second half of the month of Jyestha according to traditional Hindu calendar and according to Gregorian calendar; it falls in the month of May or June.
In the states such as Punjab, Haryana, Kashmir, Bengal this day is heralded as the advent of Bhadrakali, an incarnation of Kali, thus Bhadrakali Jayanti. In Odisha this day is celebrated as Jalkrida Ekadashi, which is observed in celebration of Lord Jagannath.
- Legend behind Apara Ekadashi
In the Treta Yuga, King Bali fortified with boons post severe penance had driven even the Gods in Heaven helpless. He made Lord Indra leave Heaven as his reign was spreading. Gods in Heaven sought the help of Lord Vishnu, who took the incarnation of Vamana to teach Bali a lesson. Lord Vishnu showed Bali that he is Trivikrama, or who who ruled the three lokas. This auspicious day is known as the Apara Ekadashi day.
According to another legend, long ago there was a just and kind king named Mahidhvaj, who had an evil and a sinister brother called Bhrajdhvaj. Overcome with jealousy at the justness and popularity of Mahidhvaj, one night his brother killed him and buried him under a Peepal tree. But post the amoral act, Bhrajdhvaj had no peace and started going insane, when one day a sage called Dhumya advised him to observe the fast of Apara Ekadashi to repent for the wrong doings and to wash away all his sins so that he could lead a peaceful life.
King Yudhistira too, sought to know about this powerful vrat during one of his resting periods from Lord Sri Krishna. Lord Krishna explained that people who observes d this vrat was bound to be released from all their past sins and redeem them pure.
- Rituals of Apara Ekadashi
The rituals of the Apara Ekadashi include Fasting and pujas. The rituals are given extreme importance and are carried out with utmost sincerity. The Vrat or the ritual is to be observed from the sunrise till the sunrise of the next day of the Ekadashi. Fast should be broken only on the next day after offering puja. A partial fast by those who are unwell can be observed by consuming only fruits and milk. One should strictly avoid consuming any kind of grains, honey, meat products and also should not eat on bell metal plate and should not use any kind of oil.
The devotee should wake early on the Ekadashi day and have a ritual bath and offer prayers. Tulsi leaves should be plucked a day earlier and should then be offer fruit and tulsi while worshipping Lord Vishnu. It is important that a Tulsi plant is not touched on the Apara Ekadashi day. The devotee should visit the nearest Vishnu Temple to offer his worship on this auspicious day. The devotee should chant Vishnu Sahasranama and do Mauna Japa, that is chant silently and seek the Lord’s blessing in his mind. He should also arrange Satsang and Bhajans on this auspicious day.
- Benefits of Apara Ekadashi
It is believed that the Apara Ekadashi benefits is equivalent to a bath in the holy Prayag, observing Shivaratri in Varanasi, offering oblations for forefathers at Gaya, darshan of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath and many more. Those who truly fear of their past and present sins must observe Apara Ekadashi with sincerity to bring themselves redemption.