Prabhodhani Ekadashi

English meaning of the festival

The word Ekadashi means eleventh and refers to the “thithi” (Hindu date) on which it is observed. Prabhodhani means awakening or knowledge.

How the date is decided annually

Each Hindu month has two “pakshas” comprising 15 thithis each. We therefore have two Ekadashi in every Hindu month, one in the dark fortnight and one in the bright fortnight on which devotees observe fast and worship Lord Vishnu.

Significance of the festival to Hinduism

Ekadashi is an auspicious day for austerities and worship dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Hindus believe that on Ekadashi the gate to the Lord’s Inner Sanctum is opened. According to scriptures such as the Padma Purana, the observance of Ekadashi grants freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Devotees perform the Ekadashi fast to be liberated from their sins and attain salvation.

How to observe/practice

On Prabhodhani Ekadashi, an absolute fast is observed. The fast is observed 24 hours from sunrise on Prabhodhani Ekadashi to sunrise the next day. On the day before Prabhodhani Ekadashi, the devotee performs the evening prayer and takes only one meal without rice – as rice eating is prohibited. However, the devotee is permitted to have a single tiny drop of water as part of the Achamana purification ritual. The next morning (on Prabhodhani Ekadashi), having risen before sunrise and having completed personal routines and bathing, one should make a declaration (Sankalp) of observing the fast. The ideal is not to take any food or even water throughout the day and night, be truthful, and give up activities relating to material desire, anger, pride, and greed. According to the Krishna Janma Kaanda (Chapter 26) of the Brahmavaivarta Purana, the devotee observing the Prabhodhani Ekadashi fast should chant the Swasthi Vachan, offer worship to Ganesh & Gauri, Kalash & Varuna, Surya & Navagraha, Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva, and Parvathi and Agni Puja. The devotee should also perform hawan, chant the name of Sri Hari, and meditate on Sri Krishna. The next day, after Prabhodhani Ekadashi, the devotee should break fast with food offered to the Lord (food leftover from the yajna). Ekadashi is observed in various ways; however, the common idea is to either engage in a complete fast or abstain from eating rice/grains. Whatever method we observe, it must be accompanied by offering worship to the Supreme Lord, chanting His names, and reciting/listening to His kathas.