Devshayani Ekadashi falls on the Eleventh day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Ashada. It is also known as Ashadi Ekadashi, Maha Ekadashi, Ashadi Ekadashi, Toli Ekadashi, Padma Ekadashi, Devpodhi Ekadashi and Hari Sayana Ekadasi. In Maharashtra, the annual Padharpur Yatra or holy pilgrimage to the Padharpur temple comes to an end on this day. In the south, this day is identified as Toli Ekadashi. As per the traditional custom in the Vaishnavite Mutts, the inmates wear heated seals on their bodies called as Tapta Mudra Dharana. It is believed that Lord Vishnu chooses to go to a long sleep in the Ksheer Sagar (milky ocean) on this day. Hence, this day is considered to be ideal to propitiate Lord Vishnu and Mata Mahalakshmi. The sleep of the Lord is called as Yoga-Nidra which stretches over four months.
Significance and Legend:
The story of Devshayani Ekadashi was narrated to Sage Narada by Lord Brahma. King Mandhata ruled over a highly prosperous and wealthy kingdom. His people were exceptionally happy with their king. Once, his kingdom suffered famine. There was a scarcity of rains for three years. People were suffering from illness and starvation. King Mandata was unable to figure out his mistake. Hence, he went on a long journey to seek remedy for the plight that had struck the Empire. He met several holy men but nobody was able to provide him with a solution. He carried on his journey to find the solution. On his way, he met Sage Angira who advised the king to worship Lord Vishnu on Devshayani Ekadashi and observe a fast with complete rituals. Mandhata returned to his kingdom and observed the Devshayani Ekadashi. A large gathering diligently observed a strict fasting and puja procedures on the Devshayani Ekadashi day. Soon, the Kingdom found its lost glory and rains returned resulting in happiness & prosperity. Those who observe Devshayani Ekadashi are blessed with peace, happiness, and prosperity by Lord Vishnu. Devotees are liberated from the cycle of birth and death. These devotees attain salvation or Moksha.
On the day of Devshayani Ekadashi, devotees take a holy bath in the morning and install the idol of Lord Vishnu. Devotees take a holy dip in Godavari river and pay their homage to Lord Rama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu). They observe Devshayani Ekadashi fast. An idol of Lord Vishnu is given a holy bath and decorated with Shankh (shell), Chakra (Lord Vishnu's weapon), Gadha, flowers and yellow clothes. The altar is decorated with floral, mango leaf and festoon hangings. People offer Flowers, Paan (betel), Betelnut, incense sticks, Prasad (sacred food offering) dry fruits and milk. Following the arati or waving of camphor in front of the idol, the observers of this vrat partake the Prasad offered to the Lord. As per their interest, people also observe strict fasting procedure on this day.