Ekadashi is the 11th day after Pournami or the full moon, and the 11th day after the new moon. Every month, there are two Ekadashi days. Many Hindus fast on Ekadashi as it is believed to be an auspicious day that can bring them closer to God. To achieve closeness to the divine, the body and mind should be pure. Fasting is an easy way to achieve this, and ancient Hindu scriptures have always recommended it highly.
Fasting makes us feel light and alert, making us turn our awareness inward. A full stomach makes us dull and sleepy. By observing a fast, we can remain alert and purify the body, as it helps to detoxify. Some people spend the entire day taking no food, except water. Those who cannot observe such a strict fast may eat fruits and nuts, or drink milk and fruit juices. Eating amla or gooseberries helps curb hunger, so one can have amla on the fasting day.
The Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January) is considered to be very auspicious, especially in the Vaishnava tradition. The Ekadashi day this month is called Vaikuntha Ekadashi. On this day, all Vishnu temples open the Swarga vasal, and devotees queue up early in the morning to witness the opening. They believe that if they enter the Swarga vasal on this day, heaven’s gates will open for them in the afterlife. Devotees chant slokas like “Vishnu Sahasaranamam” and Narayaneeyam, and also do meditation both during the day and night on Vaikuntha Ekadashi. They remain awake and listen to stories of Lord Vishnu and sing bhajans praising him. Hence the importance of the Ekadashi vrat.
Here are some Ekadashi food recipes that will help you ward off hunger but keep you feeling light through the day.
Ash gourd juice
• Ash gourd 1
• Lemon juice – 6 tsp
• Black pepper powder – 3 tsp
• Salt – 3 tsp
• Chop ash gourd, remove skin and seeds.
• Blend to a smooth puree.
• Strain the puree.
• Add pepper powder, salt, and lemon juice.
Multigrain health mix
• Multi-grain health mix – 6 tbsp
• Jaggery/Brown sugar – 6 tbsp
• Water – 3 cups + ½ cup
• Make a paste with the health mix and ½ cup of water.
• Boil 3 cups of water and add jaggery.
• Once the jaggery dissolves, add the paste and stir for a while to prevent lumps.
• Cook for 3-5 minutes.
• Serve hot.
Brown rice kanji/gruel (for dinner)
• Brown rice – 1 cup
• Green gram/Moong dal (with skin) – 1/3 cup
• Salt – 1 tsp
• Water – 3.5 cups
• Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook. Once the brown rice is soft like porridge, switch off the stove. More water can be added if you need the kanji to be lighter.
Black Channa Sundal
• Black chana, soaked overnight – 2 cups
• Tempering – curry leaves, mustard seeds
• Salt – 1 tsp
• Water – 4 cups of water
• Grated coconut, fresh – 3 tbsp
• Pressure cook black chana, salt, and water until the chana is cooked.
• Add the tempering and freshly grated coconut to the cooked chana.
Beans, carrot, and cabbage poriyal
• Beans, sliced – ½ cup
• Carrots, sliced – ½ cup
• Cabbage, sliced – ½ cup
• Tempering – mustard seeds, curry leaves
• Salt – 1 tsp
• Grated coconut, fresh – 4 tbsp
• Cook the vegetables.
• Add the tempering and freshly grated coconut to the cooked vegetables.
Tur dal chutney
• Tur dal – 1 cup
• Black mustard seeds – 2 tsp
• Tamarind paste – 3 tsp
• Tempering – curry leaves and mustard seeds
• Dried Red Chilies – 4
• Ginger, sliced – 1-inch thick piece
• Groundnut oil – ¼ cup
• Salt – 1.5 tsp
• Heat oil. Add tur dal, mustard seeds, and dry red chilies. Roast for 5 minutes and let the mixture cool.
• In a blender put the roasted tur dal, mustard seeds, and dry chilies as well as the remaining ingredients. Blend to a smooth paste.
One can also take Banana, Lemon, Pineapple, Grape, Dry fruits, Milk, Yogurt, Buttermilk, Aval, cereals, Broken rice, and Rava. When fasting, it is easier for our energies to move closer to God or towards our sadhana or the higher chakras. Ekadashi, and especially Vaikuntha Ekadashi, is a powerful day to make spiritual progress. Fasting rules for Ekadashi often vary from community to community. One’s age and health conditions should be kept in mind when observing the fast.