Tholi Ekadashi is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is considered very dearest to the Lord. Many devotees across the world observe fast on this day involving the four age-based ashramas called Brahmacharya (bachelor student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (forest dweller, retired), and Sanyasashrama. Mainly three Ekadashi’s are considered highly significant.
- Tholi Ekadashi (Ashada Suddha Ekadasi)
- Vaikunta Ekadasi (Pushya Suddha Ekadashi) – Uttara dwara darshanam and start of Uttarayana Punyakalam
- Bheeshma Ekadasi (Magha Sudda Ekadashi) – Day when Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram was revealed to Pandavas by Bhishma
Tholi Ekadashi is also called Sayana Ekadasi. As per the scriptures, it is believed that Lord Vishnu goes to a deep sleep on this day when the holy period of Uttarayana Punyakalam comes to an end. This is when the Dakshinayana gets started, and the doors of holy heaven are considered closed. More festivals during the period of Dakshinayana compared to Uttarayana, and devotees are suggested to worship more than ever during this time.
It is strongly believed and mentioned in many Puranas that observing fast on Tholi Ekadashi will bless the devotees with the fulfilment of all their wishes. Fasting is not about voluntary abstinence from food but about doing good deeds like donating to poor people and worshipping the Lord with complete devotion. As per the scriptures, when Bhima wanted to observe fast, Lord Sri Maha Vishnu himself explained 4 fasting rules.
4 rules of fasting:
- Those who can endure and have the strength should observe fast until the next morning, take a bath before sunrise and then have their meals.
- Devotees can observe fast by taking only liquids like milk and water, stay till sunrise the next day, take a bath before sunrise, offer prayers to the Lord and then break the fast the eating their meal.
- Devotees who eat only fruits should stay till sunrise the next day, take a bath before sunrise, offer prayers to the Lord, and break their fast.
- People with unsupportive health or other conditions can have their Alpaharam(breakfast/Short meal) and stay till sunrise the next day, take a bath before sunrise, and break the fast after offering prayers to the Lord.
So, one can follow any of these fasting rules as per their capabilities and health conditions.
Why should we fast on Tholi Ekadashi?
Though many people have doubts and questions about observing a fast, research and scientific studies showed potential health benefits for one’s health due to fasting, it is also believed that observing fast once in a while gives ample rest to the digestive system promoting better functioning. One can get the three Gunas of nature – sattva, rajas, and tamas in into their control by observing fast. When a human has these Gunas in their control, they can overcome all the six enemies of the mind (kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), Mada (arrogance), moha (delusion), and matsarya (jealousy)). So, when Lord Sri Maha Vishnu himself explained the significance of fasting, Bhima observed the fast.
So, Whosoever observed fast on every Ekadashi are believed to be blessed with everything and fulfil all their wishes.