This holy day is of special significance to Vaishnavas, followers of Hindu preserver god Vishnu. On this day images of Vishnu and Lakshmi are worshipped, the entire night is spent singing prayers, and devotees keep fast and take vows on this day, to be observed during the entire chaturmas, the holy four month period of rainy season. These may include, giving up a food item or fasting on every Ekadashi day.
It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar - cosmic ocean of milk - on Shesha naga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi
According to legends, there was a noble king named Mandata in Surya Vamsha who ruled a highly prosperous kingdom. He as immensely truthful and was engaged with numerous auspicious deeds. Nonetheless, the prosperity was highly affected as the kingdom received no rains for over three years. Eventually, no farming activities could take place and hence, numerous people and animals died while others were severely affected. Though the king performed several vrats, pujas, homas, but to no avail. Thus, he set out on a journey and met many holy men with whom he discussed his problem. But, none of them could come out with a solution. At last, he met Sage Angira who instructed him to observe the Devshayani Ekadashi falling during the Shukla Paksha of the Ashada month. As advised, the king went back to his palace and observed the vrat along with family members and courtiers. As expected, the kingdom received rains thereby ending the three years of severe drought. Thus, the lost glory and merit of the kingdom was regained.
Devshayani Ekadashi is popularly known as Deva Sayani Ekadashi, Shayana Ekadashi, Tholi Ekadashi, Pedda Ekadashi, Vishnu Sayan Ekadashi, Harivasara Ekadashi, Maha Ekadashi, Ashada Devasayani Ekadashi and Padma Ekadashi in different parts of India. Thousands of devotees gather on the banks of River Godavari at Kala Ram Temple and take a holy dip in the waters while paying obeisance to Lord Rama. Devotees observing the Devshayani Ekadashi vrat follow the same rules associated with other Ekadashi fasts.
Determination of Date
Devshayani Ekadashi is celebrated on Ashadh Shukla Ekadashi falling at sun rise. For this the Ekadashi connected with Dwadashi is taken. If Dwadashi disappears then fast should be observed on Ekadashi connected with Dashami. If Ekadashi falls on two days then it is celebrated on the second day but if Dwadashi disappears in that situation it is observed on first day only. If Ekadashi disappears then on first day and in case of extension of Dwadashi with disappearance of Ekadashi it is celebrated on second day.
How to Celebrate
This day enables you to please Lord Vishnu and seek his divine blessings. Like other Ekadashis this day also helps you to attain salvation and freedom from the worldly greed. It is believed that observing a fast on this day-
- Fulfills all your wishes
- Provides energy to face every challenge of life
- Liberates from the sins committed in past
- Enhances the physiological functions of the body
- Helps to strengthen one’s self-control and improves your emotional stability.
Devshayani Ekadashi marks the beginning of Chaturmas. The period of Chaturmas commences on July 4 and continues till October 31. Chaturmas is the period of four months according to the Hindu Calendar, begins from the Shukla Paksha of Ashadh and ends on Shukla Paksha of Kartik month.
This period is between the months of July to October. The month of Sawan also comes during this period. This phase of the year is considered ideal for indulging in religious activities as it is said that the Gods are not happy during this time. Therefore, rituals are held to please them.
Lord Vishnu is believed to be in a deep rest during this period. It is said that he goes to sleep on the day of Devshayani Ekadashi and wakes up on the day of Prabodhini Ekadashi. As per the Hindu Mythology, there is a story behind the concept of Chaturmas. In the story, Uttarayana is said to be the God of a day which represents six months and the other six months that come under Dakshinayana is like a single night for the Goddesses.
As there can be no celebrations during the night, therefore this period of six months was marked to be inauspicious by Lord Vishnu. This made Goddess of Dakshinayana angry and she threatened to kill herself. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu said that the first four months will be considered inauspicious. Hence, Chaturmas came into existence which begins with the Shayani Ekadashi.
According to scriptures, there is also an incident when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana and he stepped on King Bali's head to push him down to the Patal Lok (underworld). Even after this act, being an ardent devotee of Vishnu, King Bali requested Lord Vishnu to come every year to the Patal Lok with his wife, Laxmi. From that time onwards, Lord Vishnu rests at the Patal Lok every year during this period.
No auspicious functions are performed during the period of Chaturmas, especially marriage. It is believed that marriages conducted during Chaturmas might not produce good results. But, how does it affect the nuptial relationship between two people? Let’s take a look:
Chaturmas is a time when the gods and goddesses are not meant to be disturbed by the followers. Hence, any auspicious task is not performed in the period starting from Devshayani Ekadashi and ends on Dev Uthani Ekadashi. This period is considered to be inauspicious for weddings and other ceremonies. However, it is a suitable time to perform fasts. Devotees also spend their time in recital of Mantras, bathing in holy rivers. Charity during this period is believed to be auspicious. Fasts and other austerities help a person maintain good health and guards him/her from certain diseases that are caused due to onset of monsoon.
It is believed that marriages conducted during Chaturmas might not produce good results. But, how does it affect the nuptial relationship between two people? Let’s take a look: If a marriage takes place during Chaturmas, there are chances of divorce. A marriage organized in the period between Devshayani Ekadashi and Dev Uthani Ekadashi, may also lead to chances of infertility. It might bring in trifling arguments between a husband and wife.
Sanyasis observe the period of Chaturmas with full devotion. Sanyasis also perform Vyasa rituals during the Chaturmas. During this time, they halt at particular places and provide discourses to the public.
Following are some of the traditions and customs that are to be followed during the Chaturmas period:
- One should get up early in the morning and take a holy bath. This deed will purify your soul during Chaturmas.
- Chaturmas Vrat is observed by the devotees, when one abstains himself/herself from consuming food.
- During Chaturmas period, jaggery, milk, salty food, sweet dishes, brinjals, curd, alcohol etc. are avoided.
- Vishnu Maha Puja is performed during the period between Devshayani Ekadashi and Prabodhini Ekadashi. Idols of Vishnu Deva are given a sacred bath.
- Mantras like Vishnu Sahasranama is chanted during Devshayani Ekadashi and Dev Uthani Ekadashi.
- On the last day of Chaturmas i.e. Dev Uthani Ekadashi, charity is performed by giving Dakshina to a Brahmin. Donations may include may include anything from clothes to essential food items.
Now, let’s take a look at the cluster of Hindu festivals that are celebrated during Chaturmas. They are:
- Guru Purnima
- Hariyali Teej
- Nag Panchami
- Krishna Janmashtami
- Kajari Teej
- Raksha Bandhan
- Ganesh Chaturthi
- Durga Puja
- Karwa Chauth
- Narak Chaturdashi
- Govardhan Puja
- Bhai Dooj
- Chhath Puja
For more reference about the dates, you can take a look at: www.indianastrology.com