Apara EkadashiBy Nepali Patro in Festivals .
For the followers of Sanatan Vedic religion, Ekadashi fast has a very great glory. There are 24 Ekadashis throughout the year. The number of Ekadashis becomes twenty-six during intercalated months. The Ekadashi falling on the Krishna pakchya of the month of Jestha is called Apara Ekadashi. In the Mahabharat period, while soothing the curiosity of Maharaj Yudhisthira, there is a mythological context where Lord Krishna explained the importance of all Ekadashis. In the context of the story mentioned in the Padma Purana, Lord Krishna has revealed the secret of attaining nearness to Lord Narayana through the ritual of Ekadashi Brat (fasting) performed methodically to be greater than the big Yagya.
Krishnapakchya of the Jestha month includes Ekadashi called Apara, which is very beneficial. All Ekadashi is considered the best of all Bratas (fasting). On the day of Ekadashi, one should worship Shri Hari by chanting the names and mantras of the Lord by offering various kinds of fruits, Incense is offered to God and lamps are donated. During the night, one should stay awake chanting the name together with other beloved devotees of God. Staying awake like this on the night of Ekadashi yields better results than doing penance for thousands of years. God has also explained the fasting rules of Ekadashi.
The Brahma Vaivarta Puran mentions the rules of Ekadashi followed by its Mahatmya (greatness) and the person observing the Brat. Ekadashi devotees should keep in mind two main things. The first is the observance of the prohibition and the second is fasting and worship. Prohibition is the basic form of Ekadashi fast. The person observing the fasting should follow the scriptural prohibitions, especially on body cleansing and diet.
Complete fasting is considered excellent in Apara Ekadashi also known as Achla Ekadashi fasting. एकादश्यां न भुञ्जीत पक्षयोरुभयोरपि। But, if one can not stay without eating for a long time, one can observe the fasting by eating fruits, flowers, sesame, milk, curd, whey, water, ghee etc. Grain should not be eaten during Ekadashi fast. It is said that all sins are accumulated and exist in the grains on the day of Ekadashi. Physical condition should be considered mainly while fasting. Therefore, Satvik Falahar including Havishyanna during the evening is also considered as a forbidden observance on Ekadashi.
Brati (faster) should take pure and sattvic food from the day of Dashmi Tithi. The householder must fully observe celibacy. On this day, living in pure and sattvic conduct, one should give up the desire for pleasure and greed. Even in the mind, lust, anger, greed, intoxication, jealousy, envy etc should not be contemplated. One should be remembering God in the mind and should continue to serve him selflessly.
Another form of Ekadashi is worship and devotion to the adorable God. The adored Lord of Ekadashi is Shrihari. On Ekadashi, after bathing in the morning, wearing clean clothes, wearing Shrikhand or Gopi sandalwood on the forehead, one should worship Lakshmi-Narayan with lotus or Vajrayanti (river hemp plant) flowers, fruits, Gangajal, Panchamrit, incense, lamps etc. One should listen to the story which includes the divine character of God. One should stay awake even at night while meditating, chanting and singing hymns. On the day of Dwadashi, a special worship of God is performed and Sattvic Brahmins with knowledge of Vedic rituals should be given food only after giving Dakshina to them, donating a Janai with purnapatro and one should consume food after bidding them goodbye. Thus, the method of fasting on Ekadashi and waking up at night, performing bhajan-kirtan is more special and more fruitful than the meritorious deeds done by performing the best Yagya.
Lord Krishna says: O Dharmaraj Yudhisthira, I very lovingly tell you a secret element, listen to me. Apart from Ekadashi Brata, I am not very happy even with the Yagya that I get the most Dakshina. Therefore, Ekadashi fast should be taken only with utmost devotion and reverence. O Rajan, the deity of Ekadashi is actually Sri Narayan. Therefore, special observance of the method should be followed in this fast. Just as Lord Bishnu is superior to the serpent Sheshnag, the eagle to the birds, the moon to the planets, Ashwamedha to the sacrifices, and Lord Bishnu to the gods, so the Ekadashi vows are superior to all Bratas. People who always fast on Ekadashi are very dear to me.
Lord Krishna says: O Yudhisthira, Apara Ekadashi bestows virtue and also destroys the evil effects of great sins. Fasting on this Ekadashi will also save the sinners who go to hell by committing sins and misdeeds like Brahmahatya, feticide, rape, theft, fraud, trade of scriptures etc. The fruits that are obtained by bathing and patriarchal work in big shrines on special occasions, the fruits that are obtained by making big sacrifices, the fruits that are obtained by donating a cow, gold, gems, elephants, horses, virgins, land, etc can be obtained by the devotees of Ekadashi fasting. Wealth, fame, pleasure, etc. are obtained in this world and in the hereafter one gets nearness to the God. Apara Ekadashi is considered like a sharp axe used to cut sins. To destroy the sinful darkness, a bright sun-like Ekadashi exists. Therefore, the glory of Ekadashi is immense.