Amalaka Ekadashi also known as Amalaki Ekadashi is a Hindu holy day, celebrated on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the waxing moon, in the lunar month of Phalgun (February–March). It will be celebrated on March 6, 2020. It is a celebration of the Amalaka or amla tree (Phyllanthus Emblica), known as the Indian gooseberry. The day also marks the beginning of the colourful festival of Holi, which is on March 10 this year.
The god Vishnu, for whom Ekadashi is sacred, is believed to reside in the 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. In Mewar, in Rajasthan, a small fair is organized at the Gangu Kund Mahasatiya. On this occasion, the potters from Gogunda region come to the fair with earthen vessels. During this season then all the vessels for storing water are replaced with the new pots. In Orissa, Amalaki Ekadashi is observed as ‘Sarbasammat Ekadashi’ with grand celebrations in Lord Jagganath and Lord Vishnu temples.
Ekadashi vrata is said to be one of the most auspicious fastings and is observed by many people across India. It is also believed that people can fulfil their desires by observing the fast as it carries blessings. The devotees observe a strict fast all day long and only food made from amla can be eaten. Some devotees also observe partial fast by simply avoiding food made from grains and rice. The observer of this vrat should also listen to the Amalaki Ekadashi vrat katha after finishing the puja rituals. The devotees stay awake all night on the day of Amalaki Ekadashi and chant the bhajans and rhymes in the name of Lord Vishnu.
According to Prokerala, here’s the list of important timings on Amalaki Ekadashi:
Sunrise: March 06, 2020 6:47 AM
Sunset: March 06, 2020 6:28 PM
Dwadashi End Moment: March 07, 2020 9:29 AM
Ekadashi Tithi Begins: March 05, 2020 1:19 PM
Ekadashi Tithi Ends: March 06, 2020 11:47 AM
Hari Vasara End Moment: March 06, 2020 5:12 PM
Parana Time: March 07, 6:46 AM – March 07, 9:07 AM
History and Significance:
There are various stories around why Amalaka Ekadashi is celebrated. One popular legend suggested 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 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.
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 worshipped 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.