Jaya Ekadashi is observed on ‘Ekadashi’ day in Shukla Paksha of Magha month. If Ekadashi falls on a Thursday, it is considered auspicious. Ekadashi is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Jaya Ekadashi is observed by all Hindus, especially followers of Lord Vishnu. It is a popular belief that Ekadashi fast helps to get rid of all the sins and attain salvation. Jaya Ekadashi is also referred as ‘Bhoumi Ekadashi’ in South India.
Significance of Jaya Ekadashi:
The importance of Jaya Ekadashi is mentioned in the ‘Padma Purana’ and ‘Bhavisyothara Purana.’ Lord Krishna had described the importance and way of observing Ekadashi vrat to King Yudhisthira, the eldest of the five Pandavas. Jaya Ekadashi vrat can free the person from the most heinous sins such as ‘Brahma Hatya.’ Jaya Ekadashi holds immense significance for the fact that it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the month of ‘Magh’ in which it falls is auspicious for worshiping Lord Shiva. Hence, Jaya Ekadashi is very important for devotees of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
The importance of Jaya Ekadashi was explained by Lord Krishna to Yudhisthir. As per Padma Purana and Bhavisyothara Purana, the soul of Bhisma left his body on Jaya Ekadashi. He narrated the Sahasranama Stothram or Vishnu Stothram to Pandavas from the bed of arrows. The Stotram was recited in the presence of Lord Krishna, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu on this day. Jaya Ekadashi is observed with great devotion by Vishnu devotees.
Another legend has it, once, Chitrasena, the musician in Indralok was accompanied by his son Malyavan. At the same time, Pushpavati, an apsara was performing in front of Lord Indra. Malyavan and Pushpavati got attracted towards each other, which affected their performances. A displeased Indra cursed Malyavan and Pushpavati to turn into pishachas. Malyavan and Pushpavati turned into pishachas and fell on the Himalayas on the day of Jaya Ekadashi. They did not have any food and were unable to sleep as well due to the cold weather. As they observed the Jaya Ekadashi vrat unknowingly, they got transformed into their original form. When they reached Indralok on a celestial plane, they explained the significance of Jaya Ekadashi to Lord Indra who blessed them to lead a happy life.
The devotees observe fast for the entire day. The vrat begins from the ‘Dashmi’ day. No food is eaten after sunrise. Devotees keep fast from the sunrise of Ekadashi until the sunrise of ‘Dwadashi.’ During the vrat, the feelings of anger, or greed should not enter into the mind. This vrat is meant to purify the body and the soul. The devotee must offer food to Brahmins on Dwadashi day and then break their fast. One who keeps the vrat should sing bhajans praising Lord Vishnu during night. Those who cannot observe such fasting can fast on milk and fruits. Devotees must abstain from eating food made from rice and grains on this day. Lord Vishnu is worshipped with devotion on Jaya Ekadashi. Devotees get up at sunrise. After taking a bath, a small idol of Lord Vishnu is worshipped by offering him sandalwood paste, sesame seeds, fruits, lamp, and dhoop. Devotees praise Lord Vishnu by reciting ‘Vishnu Sahastranaam’ and ‘Narayan Stotra’ on this day.