Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day of the fortnight which occurs twice every month. One falls during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon) and the other on the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of the moon). There are 24 ekadashis in a year. The number goes up to 26 during the ‘Adhika maas’, extra month as per the Hindu calendar. Ekadashi that falls on the Ashadha month, the eleventh month according to the Hindu calendar is called as Devshayani Ekadashi. In 2019, Devshayani Ekadashi falls on July 12. Devshayani Ekadashi is also known as Ashadi Ekadashi, Padma Ekadashi, and Hari Shayani Ekadashi.
What is Chaturmaas?
It is believed that Lord Vishnu falls asleep in the Kshir Sagar (the ocean of milk) on Shesha Naga (king of all nagas). Hence the day is called Shayani Ekadashi. He awakens from his deep sleep after four months on Prabodhini Ekadashi which falls in the Hindu month of Karthik coinciding with the Gregorian months of October or November. This period of four months is called Chaturmaas. ‘Chatur’ meaning ‘four’ and ‘maas’ means months.
Why does Vishnu go to sleep?
It is believed that during the rainy season, after Vishnu sleeps for four months the annual pralaya takes place. The lord sleeps as he is tired of his work and needs a break. This pralaya is the time when the world gets a new life. The rishis are said to divide the year into two parts – the first from January to June and the second from July to December.
During the second half of the year, the days are shorter and belongs to daityas (demons). Hence, it is the time when people observe more fasts, abstain from non-vegetarian food and alcohol, and celebrate festivals to seek the blessings of God and to keep up with good deeds. There are a number of festivals during these four months – starting with Nag Panchami, Krishna Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan, Ganeshotsav, and Diwali.
During Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and this is also the time when Lord Vishnu wakes up from his sleep. After he wakes up, Lord Vishnu marries Goddess Lakshmi, ending his slumber and beginning the season of marriages in our country.