Amalaki Ekadashi is a Hindu ritual observed by the devotees on the eleventh day of the waxing moon, in the month of Phalguna according to the traditional Hindu calendar which occurs between the months of February and March. This ritual celebrates the Amala tree.
- What is an Amalaki tree?
An Amala tree is what is called Indian gooseberry, and the scientific name for which is Phyllanthus emblica.
- But why is an Amalaki or Amla tree Revered?
Devotees believe that Lord Vishnu resides in the Amalaki or the Amla tree. It is also believed that his wife, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi too resides in the tree. It is also surmised that Lord Krishna along with his consort Radha, reside near the Amalaki tree thereby making it even more special. Worshipping the tree as a symbolic representation is an extension of the pantheistic creed that Wordsworth spoke about and it is rooted to the reason of trees being important in an agrarian society like the Indian’s. With the deep rooted belief that an Universal Spirit resides in the tree, devotees pay their homage. Seen from a scientific perspective, the tree is full of vitamin C and every part of the tree can be used for medicinal purpose; so revering the tree can be quite understandable.
- What is the legend behind the Amalaki tree?
According to mythology, King Chitrasena along with his subjects observed the vrat or ritual of Amalaki Ekadashi. During a trip in the jungle, he was caught by demons and imprisoned. Though physically unharmed, he was semi-unconscious. A divine light emanated from his body and vanquished his attackers and then disappeared. Upon gaining consciousness Chitrasena was extremely surprised to see his attackers killed. A divine and disembodied voice or an Akashvani then told King Chitrasena, that divine intervention had been offered to him at the time he needed as he diligently followed the Amalaka Ekadashi vrat. Thus since then this vrat became famous and everyone who followed this with utmost devotion is believed to live happily and peacefully.
- How to practice this vrat then?
The devotee observing this vrat should have a ritual cleansing bath in the morning. Then the tree must be bathed and watered and puja materials must be used. The devotee must fast and offer the puja, Brahmin priests praying for the devotee’s health, wealth and prosperity must also be given gifts in charity. Offering food and goods in charity is greatly recommended on this auspicious day as charity on this day is said to be equivalent to a somayajna sacrifice. The Amalaka Vrat katha is also read out on this auspicious occasion.