Utthana Ekadashi, also known as Deva Utthana Ekadashi, Prabodhini Ekadashi, or Vishnu Prabodhini, marks a significant moment in Hindu tradition. Falling on the 11th lunar day of the bright fortnight in the month of Kartika, it concludes the four-month period of Chaturmasya, believed to be the time when Lord Vishnu rests. This day symbolizes Vishnu’s awakening from his slumber, following the sleep that began on Shayani Ekadashi.

Lord Vishnu and Mata Lakshmi

The Awakening and Rituals

On Utthana Ekadashi, a fasting tradition is observed, signifying the end of Chaturmasya, a period where marriages are traditionally prohibited. This cessation ushers in the auspicious Hindu wedding season. The day is revered for the symbolic union of Vishnu and Lakshmi, celebrated as Tulsi Vivaha. During this ritual, a stone representing Vishnu and a tulsi plant symbolizing Lakshmi are united in a ceremonial marriage.

Sacred Observances and Offerings

Devotees partake in rituals like creating intricate floor designs using red soil and rice paste, fashioning images of Lakshmi and Vishnu. Evening ceremonies involve Lakshmi and Vishnu puja, with offerings such as sugarcane, rice, and dried red chilies, which are later given to pandits.

Diverse Regional Celebrations

Various regions in India celebrate Utthana Ekadashi in unique ways. In Maharashtra, the festivities link to Vithoba, a form of Vishnu. The Pandharpur temple of Vithoba sees throngs of Varkari pilgrims during this period, culminating in a five-day celebration until Kartika Purnima.

Gujarat witnesses over 800,000 pilgrims performing the 32-km Lili Parikrama around Mt. Girnar over two days. This act is a gesture of gratitude to the assembled gods on the mountain.

Fairs and Ritual Baths

In Pushkar, Rajasthan, the Pushkar Fair starts on Utthana Ekadashi, extending until Kartika Purnima. This fair honors god Brahma, with ritual baths in the Pushkar lake deemed auspicious for salvation. Sadhus gather here, and the fair draws around 200,000 people and 25,000 camels, making it one of Asia’s largest camel fairs.

Cultural Significance and Rituals

Beyond celebrations, Prabodhini Ekadashi also marks the commencement of the sugarcane harvest. Farmers perform pujas in the fields and distribute sugarcane as offerings to deities and different professions.

Spiritual Observances in Sects

For the Swaminarayan sect, this Ekadashi holds paramount importance. It commemorates the diksha (initiation) of Swaminarayan by Ramanand Swami and signifies the passing of authority to Swaminarayan. Followers observe a waterless fast and offer fresh vegetables to the deities in reverence.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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