Vaikunta Ekadasi - Brief
Vaikunta Ekadasi is an annual festival celebrated at Tirumala, the abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara, in splendor. On the previous day of Vaikunta Ekadasi, ‘Bangaru Vakili’ is closed after Ekantha Seva for two days.
During these days, the Mukkoti Pradakshinam adjacent to the Srivari Sanctum Sanctorum will be kept open. This entrance is also known as ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’. The devotees can have the darshan of Lord through this entrance, which is a rare opportunity.
On this auspicious day, Mukkoti Pradakshinam will be colorfully festooned with Flowers and lights. Devotees experience the happiest feeling when they go through Mukkoti Pradakshinam and have the darshan of the Lord.
Vaikunta Ekadasi at Tirumala
In Andhra Pradesh, it is grandly celebrated in Tirumala and Bhadrachalam. In Tirumala, Vaikunta Ekadasi and the next day, known as Vaikunta Dwadasi are both celebrated with great fervor and gaiety.
The golden thresholds are shut on the night of Dasami, a day before Vaikunta Ekadasi after Ekantaseva of Swami. The next morning, that is on Ekadasi, the Mukkoti pradakshanamarg or doorway will be kept open till the ekantaseva of the Lord on Dwadasi.
This doorway is adjacent to the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord and is situated to the North and hence it is described as the 'Uttaradwar'. It is also known as 'Vaikuntadwar'.
Killing Mura - Demon by Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu has been described as Murari (the enemy of Mura) and Murantaka (the slayer of Mura).
Ekadasi is a manifestation of Vishnu’s Sakti, the female dynamic energy of Lord Vishnu who put an end to Mura the demon, who was devastating the world with demonic force.
The story of Ekadasi occurs in Padma Purana where it is narrated how the Lord was pleased with Ekadasi, wants to grant her a boon, but the merciful Goddess asks Vishnu to bless the human beings instead by granting them Moksha who might worship Lord Vishnu on that particular day for salvation from the dreaded cycle of birth and death.
Ekadasi mentioned here is the eleventh day of the waxing or bright fortnight of every month in the Lunar calendar.
The next day of Vaikunta Ekadasi is ‘Dwadasi’ on this day at the dawn ‘Sri Swami Pushkarini Teertha Mukkoti’ occurs. During Vaikunta Ekadasi all the three crores of Holy Teerthas join in Sri Swami Pushkarini waters.
On the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi in the morning of Dwadasi, Chakrasnanam will be held in Tirumala. Later Sri ‘Sudarshana Chakrattalwar’ is taken out from the Ananda Nilayam in procession around the Srivari temple and brought to Sri Varahaswami temple.
After Abhishekam, at the time of ‘Chakrasnanam’ devotees bathe in these sacred waters of pushkarini and purify themselves. Chakrattalwar is then offered Vastralankaram, Naivedyam and Harati in a splendid manner. Later Chakrattalwar is taken to Srivari temple.
All the Ekadasis, occurring in all the twelve months of the year are observed with austerities by the devotees as holy days. A fast on Ekadasi followed by breaking of the fast on Dwadasi or the twelfth day of the lunar calendar is a practice well known among the devotees.
The breaking of the fast on Dwadasi is known as Dwadasiparana after Ekadasi upavasa. The word ‘upavasa’ means more than merely a fast. It means living near or sitting at the feet of someone.
In this particular context it refers to the devotee who fasts with an intention to sitting near or sitting at the feet of the divine, seeking His grace.
Greatness of Vaikunta Ekadasi & Dwadasi
The Markandeya Purana has a beautiful story about the holy dip in the Pushkarini.
Once upon a time, Markandeya, the great sage, prays to Brahma that he might be granted the boon of a dip in all the holy rivers or tirthas of the universe. A baffled Brahma tells Markandeya that it might not be possible, but he comes out with an easy solution to fulfill the sage’s wish.
He asks the sage to go and have a dip in Swami Pushkarini on Vaikunta Ekadasi and Vaikunta Dwadasi, as all the tirthas of the universe go to have a dip in Swami Pushkarini on these two days. Such is the greatness of Tirumala and Vaikunta Ekadasi followed by Vaikunta Dwadasi.
The Gateway to Heaven - Uttaradwar
All the 108 Divyadesas celebrate Vaikunta Ekadasi. In Srirangam, the festival is celebrated with gaiety.
The God is adorned with a diamondstudded armour and the Northern gate of the temple that is considered to be an entrance to 'Vaikunta' is kept open on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day.
The utsava idol or the idol meant to be paraded through the streets during festivals is known as 'Namperumal' and it goes later through the 'Paramapada Vasal', the gateway to heaven.
The festival is celebrated in Karnataka and Kerala also. In Kerala, the festival is called ‘Swargavatil Ekadasi’.
*Data Source : Saptagiri Magazine