Nirjala Ekadashi is considered one of the most significant and sacred Ekadashis out of all the 24 Ekadashis that come in a year. Nirjala means ‘without water’. The fast is observed without consuming any food and water and hence is considered one of the toughest. It is believed that if one observes ‘Nirjala Ekadashi’ fast religiously, gets the benefits one gets by the observance of all 24 Ekadashi in the year. The holy day falls on the 11th lunar day of the waxing fortnight of the Hindu month of Jyestha which coincides with the Gregorian months of May or June. In 2019, Nirjala Ekadashi falls on June 13.
Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi or Pandava Bhima Ekadashi. These names are derived from Bhima, the second born of the Pandavas. Bhima is considered the strongest among the five Pandavas from Mahabharata. He was known for his giant appetite. It was also believed that he would consume half of the total food eaten by the brothers. According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Bhima wanted to observe all the Ekadashi fasts, but could not since he did not have control over his hunger. All his brothers and draupadi would observe the fast and this made him upset over his weak determination. He approached Sage Vyasa for the help. The sage advised him to observe fast on Nirjala Ekadashi which comes once a year that will help him to attain the virtue of all the 24 Ekadahis. Since then Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi or Pandava Bhima Ekadashi.