Nirjala Ekadashi is a Hindu holy day falling on the 11th lunar day of the waxing fortnight of the Hindu month of Jyestha. This year it is being observed on 21 June. This Ekadashi derives its name from the water-less fast observed on this day. It is considered to be the most austere and hence the most sacred of all 24 Ekadashis. If observed religiously, it is said to be the most rewarding and grants the virtue gained by the observance of all 24 Ekadashis in the year.
History of Nirjala Ekadashi:
Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Pandava Bhima Ekadashi or Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi. This name is derived from Bhima, the second and strongest of the five Pandava brothers of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The story behind the vow of Nirjala Ekadashi goes like this:
Bhima, a lover of food, wanted to observe all Ekadashi fasts but could not control his hunger. He approached the sage Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata and grandfather of the Pandavas for a solution. The sage advised him to observe Nirjala Ekadashi when for one day of the year, he should observe an absolute fast. Bhima attained the virtue of all 24 Ekadashis, by observing Nirjala Ekadashi.
Rituals and practices of the day:
While on other Ekadashis, abstinence of food is observed, on Nirjala Ekadashi, an absolute fast is observed, without partaking even water. The water-less fast is considered extremely difficult to follow as the day falls in the hot Indian summer and thus it is deemed as very pious austerity.
Like other Ekadashis, Puja is offered to Vishnu, for whom Ekadashis are sacred to seek his grace. An image of Vishnu or a Saligrama stone is bathed with a mixture of five foods: milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar.