Vaikunta Ekadasi is a major festival of South India. Also popularly known as Mukkoti Ekadasi this festival has a special significance in the Hindu traditions. Ekadasi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Vishnu and falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight in traditional Hindu calendar. The Dhanurmasa sukla paksha Ekadasi is called Vaikunta Ekadasi. Vaikunta Ekadashi is known as Putrada Ekadasi in North Indian states. It occurs in the Hindu calendar in the month of Margashirsha that corresponds to December- January. Vaikunta is the sacred abode of Lord Maha Vishnu is regarded as the ultimate place to enter and rest after ones soul departs from the body. Fasting on Vaikunta Ekadashi is equivalent to fasting on the remaining 23 Ekadashis of the (Hindu) year.
Vaikunta Ekadasi Legends
According to Padma Purana unable to bear the tyranny of a demon called 'Muran', harassed both devas and mortals, the devas approached Lord Shiva, who directed them to Lord Vishnu. lord Vishnu agreed to help them and a battle began between the demon and Lord Vishnu. when lord Vishnu was taking rest inside a cave called 'Himavati' in Badrikashrama Muran decided to slay the lord. But the female energy emerged from Vishnu’s body and vanquished Muran. Lord Vishnu was pleased by the maiden named her Ekadasi and granted her a boon. Ekadashi requested the lord that whoever observes a fast on this day should be redeemed of their sins. The Lord thus declared that people who observed a fast on that day and worshiped Ekadasi, would attain Vaikunta.
Vaikunta Ekadashi is the day on which the epic churning of the ocean of milk (samudra manthan) was completed by the demons and demigods and the amrit or proverbial nectar f immortality was obtained.
How is Vaikunta Ekadasi Celebrated?
It is believed that the gates of the heaven- the Gate of Vaikunta open on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. Temples prepare what is called as ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven‘ and This gate is opened on this day. In all Vaishnava temples, the northern doors remains open on this day and it is on this day, devotees visit the Lord through this northern entrance.
Fasting is an important aspect of Vaikunta ekadasi and is believed to help in redemption of sins and in attaining Moksha. devotees who observe fast on Vaikunta Ekadashi attain salvation by going to Heaven. people fast for the whole day and maintain vigil. Rice is not eaten on this day.it is believed that demon Muran dwells in the rice and eating of rice could get one feel heavy and hamper the vigil to be kept up. People visit temples offer prayers to Lord Vishnu.
Vaikunta Ekadasi festival is more elaborately celebrated by Vaishnavites. This festival is celebrated with lot of fervour at Vishnu temples in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. Vaikunta Ekadashi is very important day and celebrated with utmost fervour and devotion in Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam and in Trivandrum Padmanabha Swamy temple.