Ekadashi means the 11th day of every lunar fortnight. Ekadashis are considered to be extremely auspicious for the Hindus.
Amongst the 24 ekadashis in a year, Certain Ekadashis are considered more auspicious and powerful than the others. The Guruvayur Ekadashi is considered to be of great significance in the in Guruvayur, Kerala.
The Guruvayur Ekadashi is the Vrischika ekadashi observed in the shukla paksha falling on the Mandala season. This is known as Mokshada Ekadashi or Probodhini Ekadashi in other parts of the country.
This is observed in the famous temple of Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayupooram in Kerala, which is the abode of the great Guruvayurappan. In 2016, the Guruvayur Ekadashi will be observed on the 10th of December, Saturday.
Legend of Guruvayur Ekadashi
The Guruvayur idol found in the temple is unique in nature as it is carved out of the Paathalanjana rocks, which in themselves are considered to be auspicious. It is believed that this same idol was at a point of time worshipped by Lord Vishnu in his abode Vaikuntha. From Vishnu, this went on to Brahma, Kasyapa , Suthapas, Vasudeva and to Sri Krishna. Then at the time of Krishna leaving the earth and ascending to Vaikuntha, his disciple Uddhava was saddened. Krishna gave him this idol and told him, that he along with Brahaspati or the Guru of the Devas, should find a sacred spot to establish this extremely holy idol.
A huge deluge had by this time almost demolished Dwarka, and the Kali Kal was setting in. guru somehow saved the idol and along with his most devoted disciple Vayu, started out in the world to look for a suitable place. They met Parasurama in Kerala, who himself was worried about the Kali Kal and people in Kerala suffering from several ailments. He was happy to see them as he remembered that earlier Narada had advised him to establish an idol of Krishna and worship it to bring relief to the people of Kerala. Thus, he took Guru and Vayu to a beautiful spot with a serene lotus pond, which was graced at times by Shiva and Parvati.
Shiva welcomed them and said this should be where they establish the idol as it was the same spot where he himself had imparted the Rudrageetham to the Prechethas. Thus the idol was installed there. Lord Shiva and Parvati moved to the other side of the beautiful lake, in Mammiyur. Shiva blessed thm and said hence forth the place will be known as Guruvayur anmd that devotees will be blessed if they worship in Mammiyur and here.
In another legend, when Vishnu visited Yamalaya, he heard the cries of the inhabitants who had sinned and were thus in Yamalaya. He uttered the word Ekadashi, and such powerful word it was, that it immediately took away their pains and absolved them of all their sins. The observance of Ekadashi is said to have a purifying effect and absolves people of their past sins. It is also believed that a lifetime of sin is absolved of the devotees who watch the Ekadasi Vilakku or the ekadasi lights of Guruvayur. According to legends, Indra on this day comes with his Kamdhenu and gives away all material boons as blessings to his devotees.
Rituals of the Guruvayur Ekadashi
On ekadashi day, devotees observe a fast. Ekadashi was the glorious form who had emanated from the sleeping Lord Vishnu to fight the demonic Mura. Lord Vishnu had thus blessed her saying those who fasted on Ekadashi will be absolved of all their sins. Some people take a single meal on the day before, which is Dashami. After the puja, fasting on ekadashi starts and is broken only on Dwadashi or the next day. Partial fasting can also be observed and the food which can be have is milk products, fresh or dry fruits, nuts and vegetables. On dwadasi day it is customary to offer Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam for the family’s welfare.
Appearance of Lord Guruvayurappan
The idol is in the traditional form of Lord Vishnu. It has four hands carrying sankha or the conch shell, Gadha or the club, chakra or the wheel and padma or the lotus. His lower right hand holding the conch represents creative tendencies. His upper right hand holding the Sudarshan chakra symbolizes the cohesive tendencies, the control of all six seasons and the weapon to demolish the evil. The upper left hand holding the lotus signifies a tendency for dispersion and liberation. The lotus is the symbol of purity. The lower left hand holds the Gadha or the club or mace, the representative of primeval knowledge. It is called the Koumodoki.
Celebration of Guruvayur Jayanti
The Guruvayur temple is considered to be the Vaikuntha in bhulok or earth. Thus the celebration of the Guruvayur Ekadashi is phenomenal in this temple. Lamps or vailakku are a part of this ekadashi celebration. The temple remains open throughout the dashami and ekadashi of the shukla paksha, only closing at 9 on the Dwadashi day. Lord Guruvayurappan has the largest fleet of elephants and on this auspicious day there is an elephant parade. Also the memorial for Gajarajan Kesavan is decorated. Gajarajan Kesavan was the most famous elephant and had died on the ekadashi day. Thus his statue is garlanded on this day.