Nirjala Ekadasi, the fast kept to obtain the spiritual outcome of all 24 fasting days throughout the day, is considered one of the most auspicious religious observances in Hinduism. The word Nirjala means no water and Ekadasi is the eleventh day after a full moon or no moon day. Generally, the fast of Nirjala Ekadasi is performed on the 11 day of the bright half of month Jyestha. Devotees fast throughout the day and do not even consume a drop of water.
Legend of Nirjala Ekadasi
According to Hindu epic Mahabharata, one day Saint Vyasa went to visit Pandavas and the Madhyam Pandav Bhima, who was also a food enthusiast, stated that all his brothers, wife Draupadi and mother Kunti observed fast on 24 Ekadasis throughout the year and request him to do the same. But he was unable to perform the ritual owing to excruciating hunger pangs. Saint Vyasa suggested him to observe Nirjala Ekadasi, which will fetch him the holy fruits of keeping yearlong Ekadasi fasts. Bhima abided by his words and performed Nirjala Ekadasi. The next morning he became unconscious and was offered water of River Ganges along with holy basil leaves to break the fast. This is why the occasion is also known as Pandava Ekadasi or Bhimseni Ekadasi.
Rituals and celebrations of Nirjala Ekadasi
On the sacred day of Nirjala Ekadasi, countless religious masses keep strict fast throughout the day and offer prayers to their God. Jagran, a get together where devotees congregate to offer prayers to God Almighty and sing devotional songs, chant mantras and hymns is arranged at temples and homes in various parts of Northern India. After a nightlong observance, fasts are broken next morning by drinking water, tulsi leaves, fruits, and sweets. Clothes, milk, sweetmeats are fruits that are donated for charity to acquire Punya.
Significance of Nirjala Ekadasi
Hindus perform various sacred rituals on the day of Nirjala Ekadasi as a token of religious beliefs. Indeed the fast holds enormous religious significance to spiritually inclined Indian populace.