Ekadashi is a sacred day, occuring twice a month in the Hindu calendar
- on the eleventh day of the bright half - called Shukla Paksha and on
the eleventh of the dark half called Vad Paksha (Padma Puran, Uttar Khand
36/5/80). A fast is to be observed on this day by all Hindus.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada II. 8. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has related the story
"Once Bhagwan Narayan was resting. A demon named Murdanav came and
challenged Him to a duel. Suddenly a damsel appeared, evolved out of the
Ekadash indriyas of God. [The ten indriyas (sense organs) comprise the
five karma indriyas (mouth, hands, feet, anus and genital organs) and
five gnan indriyas (eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue). The ten indriyas
along with the mind are collectively known as Ekadash indriyas.] Murdanav
was so attracted to this damsel that he asked her to marry him. The damsel
agreed, but only if he agreed to a duel with her, "Whoever shall
defeat me shall marry me." Blinded by passion, he fought with her.
The damsel killed him. Pleased with her, God granted her a boon. She asked,
"O Prabhu! As I have manifested from your Ekadash indriyas, let my
name be Ekadashi. I am wedded to tap (austerity) and I desire that people
should observe the Ekadashi vrat (fast) and control their Ekadash indriyas
on this day. Bhagwan Narayan agreed."
Ever since, Hindus fast on the eleventh day of sud (shukla) paksha and
vad paksha of the month.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada I, 38, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has elaborated that
a true Ekadashi is when one withdraws the ten indriyas and eleventh -
the mind, from their worldly 'foods' and focuses them on God and devotional
activities. So moderation in daily leisure activities is desirable.
During Ekadashi, a waterless fast is ideal. However those unable to fast
may take liquids, or if needed farari foods. Such fasting a Hindu tradition
to please God, by controlling and curbing one's desires. Fasting once
a fortnight eliminates the body's toxins and wastes. In turn this clears
the mental apparatus, enhancing mental clarity and meditation. A clogged
system leads to mood swings, malaise, laziness, lethargy and unhealthful
oversleeping. Medical researchers do advocate fasting, on an average of
once a week. Novices to fasting may initially experience headaches or/and
nausea. These tend to clear up with regular fasting.
Farari foods include tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, carrots,
turnips, suran - (a type of yam), dairy products, fruits, nuts, some vegetables
(cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes) and special type of grains (moraio, rajgaro).
One can use all spices to prepare the farari foods i.e. salt, chilly powder,
black pepper, turmeric, etc.