Fasting is an integral part of Hinduism and Ekadashi fast is one of them. Ekadashi means eleventh lunar day and there are two lunar phases in Hindu calendar month, the Sukhla Paksha and the Krishna Paksha. We consider Ekadashi as a spiritual day by keeping fast.
Out of all the twenty-four Ekadashi in a year, Nirjala Ekadashi is the most important and significant than other Ekadashis. It is believed that observing a single fast on this day will bring you all the blessing and benefits you get by keeping fast on all twenty-four Ekadashi in a year.
It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is observed on the 11th lunar day of the waxing fortnight in the month of Jyestha. This fast is toughest of all the Ekadashi as it is Nirjala means without having water, so in this fasting, you not only abstain from food but also from water.
It is also called Jyeshtha Shukla Ekadashi as it falls on Jyestha in the Shukla Paksha (June) or Bhimsani Ekadashi as according to legend Bhim sen, the second Pandav brother observed this tough fast. Ganga Dussehra is celebrated one day before Nirjala Ekadashi, however sometimes both the festivals may fall on the same day.
On this day we should worship Lord Vishnu and keep fast for 24 hours abstaining from food and water the fast start on Ekadasi sunrise and ends on the next day (Dwadasi) sunrise. On the preceding day that is on the 10th lunar day after performing evening prayer, one meal is taken, and next day keep the strict fast and offer pooja to Lord Vishnu to ensure happiness, prosperity, and forgiveness of sins.
This year 2019, Nirjala Ekadashi fast is on June 13th Thursday.
What to do on Nirjala Ekadashi fasting
- It is auspicious for devotees to bath in holy rivers.
- Get up early in the morning, after taking bath wear yellow clothes and worship Lord Vishnu.
- Devotees remain awake the whole night and sing praises of Vishnu or meditate on his image.
- You can worship Vishnu Yantras, chant “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya” or chant Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra.
- Donate clothes, food grains, umbrellas, hand-fans, pitchers filled with water, gold, etc. to Brahmins.
Legend has it that Bhima, the second of Pandava brothers, wanted to observe Ekadasi fasting but still eat food. But fasting and eating was not possible. So Sage Vyasa advised Bhim to observe Nirjala Ekadasi fasting which falls during the waxing phase (Shukla Paksha) in Jyeshta month as it has the benefits of observing all the 24 Ekadasis. Thus Bhim was able to get the benefits of all Ekadasis by observing Nirjala Ekadasi. thus it is also called Bhimseni Ekadashi, Bhima Ekadashi or Pandava Ekadashi.