As the name suggests, Ashadi is Ekadashi that falls during the waxing period of the moon in the month of Ashada. In 2016, the date for Ashadi Ekadashi is 15th July. It is also known as Devshayani Ekadashi. It is said that if we keep a fast on this day, all the primary senses in the human body can be invoked. On this occasion, people undertake yatra to Pandharpur while chanting hymns on the way. Chaturmas is said to start on the event of Ashadhi Ekadashi.
Ekadashi essentially means the 11th day of a fortnight of every month. It falls twice every month in the Hindu calendar. Each month has two Ekadashis. One comes in the waxing period of the moon and the other in the waning period. Devotees observe a fast on this day.
According to the mythological legends, the Vithoba temple came about as a result of a religious enthusiast known as Pundalik. One day he left for Kashi and stopped by the Sage Kutkut’s ashram. He asked for directions and when the sage didn’t know the way, he made fun of the holy man. He stayed the night at the ashram and heard some women cleaning the ashram with water. Later he came to know that they were the Holy Rivers of India. He was confused that the saint, who had not yet visited the holy town of Kashi, was being sanctified by Ganga, Saraswati and Yamuna themselves. The women explained to him that devotion does not come from indulging only in rituals but from Karma. Saint Kutkut had spent his life serving his parents and therefore had collected enough karma where the rivers themselves descended on earth to sanctify him.
Pundalik came to an understanding wherein he realised that he had not been a dutiful son. He had left his parents behind, not withstanding their wish to go to Kashi as well. He rushed home and spent all his time serving them. Pleased, Lord Vishnu left his abode and knocked at Pundalik's doorstep. Pundalik was so busy helping his parents that he threw a brick for the Lord to stand on but did not leave his parents unattended. Only after completing his duty he went to receive the Lord. Vishnu was so happy that he asked Pundalik for a boon. Pundalik replied that wished the Lord stay on Earth and bless all his devotees. This is how the Vitthal temple came about where the statue of Lord Vitthal, standing on one foot is manifested on its own (swayambhu).
The Ashadi Ekadashi was narrated by Lord Brahma and Lord Krishna themselves. According to the story, a long time ago, there lived a King Mandata. His kingdom was facing a lot of problems in terms of no rainfall and scarcity of food and there seemed to be no solution for it for three years. Later, after being advised by one of the sages, he chose to observe a vrat on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi, after which his kingdom was relieved from the dry spell of the draught.
This yatra is a quintessential example of showing unsurpassed dedication to a particular deity. This day is immensely important for the Maharashtra Bhakti sects. Sant Dnaneshwar and Sant Tukaram of two different sects undertook a yatra and reached Pandharpur on the day of Ashadi Ekadashi. Where the former began his journey from Alandi, the latter traversed from Dehu; both, singing hymns in praises of the Lord on their journey. It is after this that the Pandharpur Yatra became immensely popular and is followed in Maharashtra religiously. The pilgrims carry palkis having images saints like Dnaneshwar, Sopan, Muktabai, Nivruttinath, Tukaram and Eknath.
Pandharpur is a pilgrimage city devoted to Lord Vishnu. It is located in Solapur in Maharashtra. The start point of the yatra is the Sant Tukaram Temple in Dehu. A Pandharpur yatra is undertaken on foot to this holy site during the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi to take darshan of the Vitthal Temple. This yatra is popular in Maharashtra and attracts people from different parts of the country. The procession to this place is packed with enthusiasm where hymns of Tukaram and Dnaneshwar are chanted on the way. And the pilgrims undertaking this yatra are known are ‘warkaaris’. The yatra takes place twice; one in Ashadi Ekadashi and the other in Kartik Ekadashi.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu went into a deep slumber on this day. Ekadashi is also known as Harididni as it is the tithi of Lord Vishnu. It is a day considered auspicious by the Hindus for fasting and offering prayers. Fasting at this time is believed to remove the harmful effects of planets. It helps unpolluted the mind so that one can focus on God and have a clearer thought process. It provides strength to face obstacles in life and eventually helps in the attainment of Moksha. During the fast all kinds of grain and certain vegetables like onion and garlic are avoided.
|Ashadi Ekadashi in 2016||15th July|
|Ashadi Ekadashi in 2017||4th July|
|Ashadi Ekadashi in 2018||23rd July|
|Ashadi Ekadashi in 2019||12th July|
|Ashadi Ekadashi in 2020||1st July|
Ashadi Ekadashi tithi begins from 12:14 am on the 15th of July to 02:08 am of the 16th.