Apara Ekadashi is a fasting day for Hindus that is observed on the ‘ekadashi’ (11th day) of the Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight of moon) in the Hindu month of ‘Jyeshtha’. It corresponds to the months of May-June in the Gregorian calendar. Ekadashis are of very high importance in the Hindu culture and one can easily find a festival or the other being observed on this day. Apara Ekadashi is one such day that is observed on the Ekadashi of the second half of the month of Jeshtha. This year it falls on 11 May 2018.
Of all the Ekadashi’s observed in a year, Apara Ekadashi is considered the most glorious one. It is believed that a person who fasts on this day washes away all his sins and attains Moksha. With just one fast on this day, a person frees himself of all the wrong doings and short falls of the past. In Madhya Pradesh, this day is celebrated with grandeur and almost everyone tries to observe a fast. This day is given high importance and people visit temples in huge numbers to pray for forgiveness.
The word ‘apar’ in Hindi implies ‘limitless’, as by observing this vrat the person is believed to get unlimited wealth, this ekadashi is called as ‘Apara Ekadashi’. Another meaning of this ekadashi is that it gives unlimited benefits to its observer. The significance of Apara Ekadashi is stated in the ‘Brahma Purana’. Apara Ekadashi is observed with full commitment all across the country. It is known by the different names in varied regions of India. In the state of Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana, Apara Ekadashi is celebrated as ‘Bhadrakali Ekadashi’ and worshipping Goddess Bhadra Kali is considered propitious on this day. In Orissa it is referred as ‘Jalakrida Ekadashi’ and is celebrated in honour of Lord Jagannath.
Observed in the month of Jyeshtha, this festival is generally observed in the month of May or June all over the country. This festival goes by many names across the nation like Achala Ekadashi, Bhadrakali Ekadashi, Vaishakh Vadi Ekadashi and Jalkrida Ekadashi. In Madhya Pradesh, it is called Apara Ekadashi a day that washes away all the sins and reserves a place in Heaven.
Significance of Apara Ekadashi
The greatness of Apara Ekadashi was foretold by Lord Krishna himself to King Yudhisitira, the eldest son of King Pandu. Lord Krishna also stated that a person keeping this ekadashi vrat will be very renowned due to their meritious deeds. It is believed that the Apara Ekadashi vrat is highly beneficial for persons who are suffering from guilt of their committed sins. By observing a strict fast and worshipping Lord Vishnu with devotion, all his/her sins will be pardoned.
One can even attain moksha by keeping the Apara Ekadashi fast. This ekadashi vrat will make a person prosperous and rich. It is also stated in the Hindu scriptures and puranas that by keeping this sacred fast the person gets the same benefits as taking a bath in the holy Ganges during the auspicious month of ‘Kartik’. The importance is equivalent to donating cows or performing sacred yagyas. The Apara Ekadashi fast is a ray of light that can remove the darkness of one’s sins.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is believed that the observance of fasting on this auspicious day will confer great merits and destroy one’s sins besides bestowing universal fame. In due course, the observer will also be removed of all the bonds and given Moksha. The significance of the Apar Ekadashi Vrat is described by Lord Krishna in The Mahabharata to Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas. The story goes thus
Apara Ekadashi Vrat Katha
Once upon a time, there lived a religious king named Mahidhvaj. His younger brother, Bhrajdhvaj, was a cruel, sinner and unjust person. He used to hate Mahidhvaj. One night he killed his elder brother. And he buried the dead body beneath a Pipal tree. Now he started showing violence to the Pipal tree. Accidentally, one day, a Rishi named Dhumya passed from there. Then, Rishi advised him to observe the fast of Apara Ekadashi and get free from all his sins, in order to live a peaceful life.
Rituals of Apara Ekadashi: Things to do
* For ultimate results, total fasting is advised during the Vrat period. If this is not possible, then taking fruits and milk is permitted. The bottom line is that cereals and rice should be completely avoided during the Vrat period. The observer breaks the fast on the next day after visualizing the sunrise.
* On the first day, the observer should take bath in the early morning and should never apply oil till the Vrat comes to completion. During the Vrat period, engaging in auspicious deeds, worship of Lord Vishnu and Mother Kali, listening to sacred stories and other acts that the observer deems good are advised.
* On this day, offering Tulsi to Lord Vishnu can confer highly wonderful merits. However, it is said that the Tulsi leaves must not be picked from the plant on this day. The observer may collect them in advance the previous day itself. Visiting the nearest Vishnu temple and chanting the name of Lord Vishnu are enjoined.
* The observer of Apara Ekadashi needs to take special care of the puja. All the rituals must be performed with complete devotion and dedication. The observer of this vrat should get up before sunrise and take bath. The devotees then offer Tulsi leaves, flowers, dhoop and lamp to Lord Vishnu. Sweets are prepared for this occasion and offered to the lord. The devotees also recite the Apara Ekadashi vrat katha or story. ‘Aarti’ is then performed and the ‘Prasad’ is distributed among other devotees. The devotees also visit temples of Lord Vishnu, in the evening.
* The fast of this ekadashi begins on the ‘dashami’ (10th day). The person eats only one meal on this day so that the stomach remains empty on the day of ekadashi. Some of the devotees keep strict fast and spend the day without eating or drinking anything. Partial vrat can also be kept for those who are unfit to observe strict fast. They can then eat ‘falahar’ all day. The fast starts from sunrise and ends on the sunrise of the ‘dwadashi’ (12th day). On the day of Apara Ekadashi eating of all kinds of grains and rice is prohibited for all. Applying oil on body is also not allowed.
* The fast of this ekadashi does not mean only to control the eating but one should also keep the mind free from all negative thoughts. The observer of this vrat should not tell lies or speak badly about others. Their mind should only have thoughts about Lord Vishnu. Reciting ‘Vishnu Sahastranam’ on this day is considered to be auspicious. The observer of the Apara Ekadashi vrat must be engaged in bhajans and kirtans in praise of Lord Vishnu.
Apara Ekadashi Vrat Puja Vidhi
- Wake up early, take bath and offer prayers.
- Offer fruits and Tulsi while worshipping Lord Vishnu.
- Do not pick leaves from Tulsi plant on this day. (Collect leaves a day before.)
- Visit nearby Vishnu temple.
- Recite Vishnu Sahasranama or simply chant “Om Namo Narayana”.
- Observe self-control, do Maun-Japa i.e. repeat Lord’s name in mind.
- Arrange Satsang and Bhajan.
Awaaz Nation wishes you and your family a very happy and blessed Apara Ekadashi Vrat.