What is Nirjala Ekadashi?
Nirjala Ekadashi is a Hindu event that takes place on the 11th lunar day (Ekadashi) of the Hindu month of Jyestha (May/June). The name of this ekadashi comes from the waterless (Nir-jala) fast that is conducted on this day. It is the most austere, and hence the most holy, of all the 24 Ekadashis. It is regarded to be the most beneficial if done religiously, as it grants the virtue obtained by observing all 24 ekadashis during the year.
Due to severe fasting regulations, Nirjala Ekadashi Vratam is the most difficult of all Ekadashi fasting. During the Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat, devotees refrain not only from food but also from water.
This year, Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat will be observed on June 10th and 11th.
History and Significance:
The Nirjala Ekadashi vrat vow is described in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Bhima, a foodie, tried to keep all of the ekadashi fasts, but he couldn't control his appetite. For help, he went to the sage Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata and grandfather of the Pandavas. The guru urged him to observe Nirjala Ekadashi, a day in the year when he should fast completely. By following Nirjala Ekadashi, Bhima attained the virtues of all 24 ekadashis.
Nirjala Ekadashi is observed during the Shukla Paksha of the Jyeshtha month, which is now in May or June. Nirjala Ekadashi occurs soon after Ganga Dussehra, however Ganga Dussehra and Nirjala Ekadashi may occur on the same day in some years.
Rituals and Practises:
On the second day of the Ekadashi fast, Ekadashi Parana is performed after daybreak. Unless Dwadashi Tithi is over before daylight, it is required to do Parana inside Dwadashi Tithi. It's almost as though not practicing parana on Dwadashi is a crime.
Hari Vasara is not the time to practice parana. Before breaking the fast, one should wait till Hari Vasara has passed. Hari Vasara is the first of the Dwadashi Tithi's four periods. Pratahkal is the most popular time to break the fast. During Madhyahna, it is best not to break the fast. If you are unable to break your fast at Pratahkal for some reason, you should do so after Madhyahna.
Fasting for two days on Ekadashi is sometimes recommended. It is recommended that Smartha and his family fast solely on the first day. For Sanyasis, widows, and those seeking Moksha, the alternate Ekadashi fasting, which is the second, is recommended. When Smartha's alternate Ekadashi fasting is advised, it falls on Vaishnava Ekadashi fasting day.
Fasting on both days of Ekadashi is recommended for devout devotees seeking Lord Vishnu's favor and adoration.