Friday, June 22, 2012

Aashadi Ekadashi

Vivek, my friend, called and said on 30th June, there is some ocassion due to which there will be a lot of traffic on the road that had Vithal temple and so the Wadala centre will remain closed. I tried to explain with my half-baked knowledge about Aashadhi Ekasdashi and realisedI didn't really know much about it, although as a child I celebrated it every year. The fasting treats were yummy but the 'Dindi' processions disrupted traffic in Pune completely. I have walked, and walked miles to reach home during college days, courtesy Pune traffic Management. That set me thinking as to how can I explain Aashadhi Ekadashi, which has great significance in Maharashtrian household.
So here it is Vivek for you and some other non-aware friends.
Shayani Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day, Shukla paksha of the Hindu month of Ashadha (June - July), also known as Ashadhi Ekadashi or Ashadhi. This holy day is of special significance to Vaishnavas, followers of Lord Vishnu. On this day images of Vishnu and Lakshmi are worshipped, the entire night is spent singing prayers, and devotees keep fast and take vows (of abstinence from garlic and onions )on this day, to be observed during the entire chaturmas, the holy four month period of rainy season. These may include, giving up a food item or fasting on every Ekadashi day.
It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar - cosmic ocean of milk - on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (lit. "god-sleeping eleventh") Vishnu finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi - eleventh day of bright fortnight in the month  of Kartik (October–November). This period is known as Chaturmas ("four months") and coincides with the rainy season. Thus, Shayani Ekadashi is the beginning of Chaturmas. Devotees start observing the Chaturmas vrata (vow) to please Vishnu on this day.
A fast is observed on Shayani Ekadashi. The fast demands abstinence from all grains, beans, cereals, certain vegetables like onions and certain spices and all kinds of meat and eggs.
a small town on the banks of river Chandrabhaga or Bhima, is main center of worship of the deity Vithoba, a local form of Vishnu. On Aashadhi Ekadashi, thousands of pilgrims, form of religious procession called as Dindi’s visit Pandharpur. These pilgrims are referred to as Warkaris. They sing Abhangas (chanting hymns) of Saint Tukaram and Saint Dnyaneshwar, dedicated to Vithoba. This customs started far back in year 1810. Tradition has it that two of the greatest devotees of the Lord from the State of Maharashtra, Sant Gyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram had set out on a pilgrimage to the temple of Lord Vittala from their respective places and reached the Divine Abode in fifteen days time on the auspicious day of Ashadi Ekadashi.

Today most of the processions carry Palkhi's (palanquins) with the images of the saints of Maharashtra. Sant Dnyaneshwar's image is carried from Alandi, SantTukaram's from Dehu,  Sant Eknath's from Paithan,  Sant Nivruttinath's from Trimbakeshwar, Sant Muktabai's from Muktainagar, Sant Sopan's from Sasvad and Gajanan Maharaj’s from Shegaon I have been to Pandharpur only once and the darshan of lord was mesmerising. That just explains why millions, every year go there.
As a child, I have been facinated with Dindi's and the Warkari's, with orange flags, forehead smeared with abir-bukka, waking, singing and dancing to the lord. One has to see the 'Ringan' dance performed by Warkari's. I am still hoping that one day I too shall join them singing, dancing to see the Lord.

Note- the images are from Net and I have no rights to them. The warkari image is Manodyna's pictures.