Devshayani Ekadashi 2021: Importance, Holy Ritual & Mythological History

Devshayani Ekadashi 2021: Importance, Holy Ritual & Mythological History


In the bright fortnight, the month of ashada, the eleventh day is known as Deshayani Ekadashi. Falling between June and July this Ekadashi holds great significance to the followers of the Lord Vishnu, the Vaishnav community. Also known as Maha Ekadashi, Toli Ekadashi, Ashadi Ekadashi, Harishayani Ekadashi, the period is marked by the sun’s entry into the zodiac sign of Gemini.  This also marks the beginning of chaturmasa, a holy period of four months between ashada and Kartik.


Lord Vishnu is believed to attain Yoga Nidra, a state of complete mental relaxation, on the day of Devshayani Ekadashi, a time when the lord goes to sleep on the cosmic ocean of milk, the ksheersagar.  During this period no auspicious activity is carried out, especially marriages. The day is celebrated by worshipping the idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi early in the morning. Devotees offer flowers, light lamps, and make a milk-based sweet called Kheer.  This is offered to the deities with the chanting of hymns and shlokas throughout the day.


There was a king in the sunavans, the ruler of mandhata. Honest, peace-loving, and valiant, the king looked after his people’s every need and made sure all in his kingdom were always with joy and prosperity. There was no scarcity or poverty and everything was excellent. However, a deadly famine hit his kingdom leaving everyone in despair and hunger. The king decided to find a solution as no such disaster had ever overtaken his kingdom. Going deep into the forest to find a solution, he came across an ashram,  the ashram of one of the sons of Lord Brahma, namely, Angira. The king prayed to the sage to put his kingdom out of misery. The accomplished recluse suggested to the king to observe Devshayani Ekadashi. The king followed the sage’s instructions including fasting for the occasion. In no time, famine and drought left the kingdom and everything returned to peace and prosperity in the region.


Known for its fasting rituals, Devshayani Ekadashi includes waking up early in the morning an hour and a half before sunrise, followed by a bath and meditation.

Written by Mala Chatterjee