Amalaka Ekadashi or Amalaki Ekadashi is a Hindu holy day that is celebrated on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the waxing moon, in the lunar month of Phalgun (February–March). It typically falls between Maha Shivaratri and Holi. In 2018, Amalaka Ekadashi falls on Monday, February 26, 2018. As the name suggests, it is the celebration of the amalaka or amla tree. It is said that Lord Vishnu, for whom ekadashis are sacred, resides in the amla (Indian Gooseberry) tree. The amla tree is ritually worshipped on this day to get the grace of the deity. The day marks the beginning of the main celebrations of the festival of Holi, the Hindu festival of colours. Also Read - Devshayani Ekadashi 2020: Check Out The Date, Time And Significance of The Puja
There are various stories around why Amalaka Ekadashi is celebrated. One popular legend suggests that King Chitrasena and his subjects observed the vrata of Amalaka Ekadashi. During one of his hunting trips, Chitrasena lost his way in the forest and was captured by the wild tribals or rakshasas (demons) who attacked him with weapons. The king remained physically unharmed, but he fell unconscious as more tribals or demons surrounded him. That is when a divine power in the form of a light emerged from his body and destroyed his attackers and then vanished. When he regained consciousness, Chitrasena was stunned to see all the attackers killed. A divine voice then announced that this was due to the observance of the Ekadashi vrata. After this incident, the vrata became popular in the kingdom, which led to peace and harmony. Also Read - Yogini Ekadashi 2020: All You Need to Know About The Date, Time of Puja And Importance of This Day
Another legend in the Brahmanda Purana states that King Chaitraratha of Vaidisa and his subjects were blessed with riches due to the worship of Vishnu. When Chaitraratha and his subjects worshiped Vishnu and the amla tree near the Vishnu temple, they also fasted and remained awake the whole night singing bhajans in praise of Lord Vishnu. The story states that a hungry hunter joined the group and followed the Amalaka Ekadashi vrata. As a result, after his death he was reborn as King Vasurath. Essentially, the moral of the story is that the performance of Amalaka Ekadashi vrata, without any desire and just pure devotion, results in the grace of Vishnu, in this and next lives. Also Read - Legend of Badrinath Temple: As Shrines Reopen Post COVID-19 Lockdown, Here's More History on The Famous Religious Place
This year, the Amalaka Ekadashi tithi begins at 10.39 PM on February 25 and ends on 07.59 PM on February 26. Parana which means breaking the fast, is on February 27 at 05.09 PM. On this day, devotees have an early bath, water the tree, do a puja and then observe a fast. Gifts are offered to Brahmin priests and people also listen to the vrata katha of Amalaka Ekadash. Giving food and charity on this day is believed to be equal to the performance of a vajapeya, a somayajna sacrifice. Ekadashi Parana is done after sunrise on next day of Ekadashi fast. It is necessary to do Parana within Dwadashi Tithi unless Dwadashi is over before sunrise. Not doing Parana within Dwadashi is similar to an offence. Also, Ekadashi fasting on both days is suggested for staunch devotees who are seeking the love and affection of Lord Vishnu. Also, Amalaka Ekadashi is when the festivities around Holi begin.