Vaikunta Ekadasi OR Mukkoti Ekadasi is a very important day for Vaishnava Hindus, or those who are Vishnu devotees. On this day, it is believed that worshipping Vishnu and passing through the Vaikunta Dwaram erected in temples for this special occasion can help one to attain Moksha.
The festival falls in the month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan) in the Tamil calendar. It is on the day of Ekadasi in Shukla Paksha of this month. Shukla Paksha is the waxing fortnight of the Moon. There are 2 Ekadasis in a month, one in Shukla Paksha and one in Krishna Paksha (waning lunar phase). In the Gregorian calendar, there are likely to be one or two Vaikunta Ekadashis in a year.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is also known as Mokshada Ekadasi or Mukkoti Ekadasi. In Kerala, it is called Swargavathil Ekadasi. Devotees believe that Vaikuntha Dwaram, or the door to Vishnu’s abode opens on this day and that if they observe fast on Vaikunta Ekadasi, their sins will be eliminated, and they can go to heaven.
It is believed that Samudra Manthan (churning of the Milky Ocean) took place on this day, and the divine nectar of immortality, Amrit, emerged from the ocean. This day is also called Gita Jayanti, as Krishna gave his advice (the Bhagavad Gita) to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra on this day.
Myth behind Vaikunta Ekadasi
Once, there was a demon called Muran. He was creating a lot of havoc, as he had become invincible, thanks to a boon. Unable to bear his torment, the Gods approached Vishnu for help. Vishnu then engaged the demon in battle. However, the demon proved to be too strong for him. The battle raged on for many days, but Vishnu could not subdue the demon. Feeling exhausted, Vishnu retired to a cave to take some rest. While resting, he fell asleep.
Meanwhile, Mura was searching for Vishnu. Finally, he reached the cave and saw, to his great delight, that Vishnu was fast asleep. This was his chance to kill him. But suddenly, a female form emerged from Vishnu’s sleeping form. It was none other than his Shakti or feminine energy. She reduced Muran to ashes with just one look.
Vishnu woke up and saw what had happened. He was very pleased and wanted to reward the Goddess who had killed Muran. He told her that all those who observed a fast on that day and worshipped her would be liberated from their sins and attain Vaikunta. Vishnu also named her Ekadasi, as this incident happened on the day of Ekadasi.
Another legend claims that Vishnu opened the gate of Vaikunta for two demons, even though they were his foes. They also asked for a boon whereby those who listen to their story, and glimpse the image of Vishnu emerging from the door called Vaikunta Dwaram, would also reach Vaikunta. Hence, at Vishnu temples all over India, a door-like structure is erected for devotees to pass through on Vaikunta Ekadasi.
Vaikunta Ekadasi Fast
As per the Vishnu Purana, fasting on Vaikuntha Ekadashi is equal to fasting on the remaining 23 Ekadasis. But the Vaishnava tradition maintains that fasting is mandatory on all Ekadasi days. A complete fast is usually observed on Ekadashi, which is the 11th day of the Paksha (1 paksha = 15 days).
Parana refers to breaking the fast. It is done after dawn on the day after Ekadasi. Parana has to be made within Dwadashi Tithi. If not, it is like an offense.
The fast should not be broken during Hari Vasara. The ideal time is Pratahkal. Sometimes the fast is observed for two consecutive days. Smartha Brahmins with family need to observe fasting only on the first day. The alternative fast of Ekadasi, or the second, is for sanyasis, widows, and for those who seek Moksha.
Apart from the fast, devotees also keep vigil during the night and recite or listen to sacred texts like Vishnu Sahasranamam, Vishnu Ashtotharam, etc.
Vaikunta Ekadasi 2023 Vrat –
Monday 2nd January 2023 And Saturday 23rd December 2023
For January Vaikunta Ekadasi
On 3rd, Parana Time = 7:18 AM to 9:21 AM
On Parana Day Dwadashi End Moment = 22:01
Ekadashi Tithi Starts = 7:10 PM on 1-January-2023
Ekadashi Tithi Ends = 8:22 PM on 2-January-2023
For December Vaikunta Ekadasi
On 24th, Parana Time = 7:15 AM to 9:17 AM
Smartha Vaikuntha Ekadashi = 22/12/2023
On 23rd, Parana Time for Smartha Ekadashi = 1:21 PM to 3:23 PM
On Parana Day Hari Vasara End Moment = 12:59 PM
Ekadashi Tithi Starts = 8:15 AM on 22-December-2023
Ekadashi Tithi Ends = 7:11 AM on 23-December-2023