Vaikunta Ekadashi is one of the most important Ekadasis. Ekadashi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Vishnu and falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight in traditional Hindu calendar. Vaikuntha Ekadasi is observed in the Margali Month (Margazhi Masam) as per Tamil Calendar and in Pushya month as per Telugu Calendar.
Vaikunta Ekadasi festival is more elaborately celebrated by Vaishnavites. It is more prominent for Tamil and Telugu speaking people. Fasting, keep vigil at night and passing through the Vaikunta Dwaram are the important auspicious activities on the day.
Vaikunta Ekadasi is celebrated with great importance in Tirupati Balaji Temple, Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, and Bhadrachalam Sita Ramachandraswamy temple. Apart from these temples, all the temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations celebrate Vaikunta Ekadasi.
The significance of Vaikunta Ekadasi can be traced back to the Padma Purana. The Purana indicates that Lord Vishnu took the form of ‘Ekadasi’ – female energy – to kill demon Muran. This happened during the month of Margazhi. Impressed by ‘Ekadasi,’ Lord Vishnu told her that whoever worships him on this day will reach ‘Vaikunta’ (heaven).
Like all Ekadasi days, devotees fast on this day and observe vigil the whole night. Some people indulge in meditation, Japa and singing of Hari Kirtan. Rice is avoided during ekadashi days as it is believed that the demon Mura finds a dwelling in the rice eaten on Ekadasi day. Chanting of Vishnu Sahasranamam is very auspicious on this day.
It is widely believed that the gates to the heaven open – the Gate of Vaikuntha – on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. It is one of the most auspicious days in Lord Vishnu Temples in South India.
The ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven’ is opened on this day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunta in the temples.
Vaikunta Ekadasi occurs in December or early January.