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Nirjala Ekadashi vrat is the most powerful of all Ekadashis. Explore to know about the story of Pandav Bhima Ekadashi fasting and how to observe it.

Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat

Considered to be the most powerful and most beneficial Ekadashi amongst all, Nirjala Ekadashi falls on the 11th day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon) in the month of Jyeshtha as per the traditional Hindu lunar calendar. This usually occurs in the month of May or June according to the Gregorian calendar. Also known as Pandav Bhim Ekadashi, Nirjala Ekadashi is different from the usual Ekadashi vrats observed by Hindu devotees. While in all Ekadashi fasts, devotees are allowed to drink water, however while observing a Nirjala Ekadashi vrat, they do not drink water throughout the day. Know about the story behind observing Nirjala Ekadashi vrat and the procedure for observing it.

How To Observe Pandav Bhima Ekadashi Vrat
Legends take one back to the mythological story of Mahabharata as the Nirjala Ekadashi vrat has been mentioned therein. Kunit, mother of the Pandavas, Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas, and all the four Pandava brothers - Yudhisthira, Arjun, Nakula and Sahadeva used to observe Ekadashi vrats without fail. However, the second Pandava brother, Bhima resisted from fasting as he was a voracious eater and wasn’t able to control his hunger. On one occasion, Bhima chose to observe the vrat but he also wanted to eat. Hence, he went out to Ved Vyasa, the grandfather of the Pandavas, to seek help in observing the fast.

While eating and fasting were not possible simultaneously, sage Vyasa suggested that he observe the Nirjala Ekadashi vrat, which includes the benefits of observing 24 Ekadashi vrats. Nirjala Ekadashi is regarded as the strictest fast among all the Ekadashis in the Hindu religion as one cannot even drink water while observing it. The literal meaning of Nirjala is ‘without water’. Thus, all Vishnu devotees who take up this fast do not drink water nor eat any food during the entire day of fasting. Observing a Nirjala Ekadashi is highly beneficial as it is considered equivalent to going on a pilgrimage. The vrat begins at sunrise on the Ekadahsi and ends on the next day’s sunrise.

The entire day of the Nirjala Ekadashi vrat is spent at Vishnu temples. Devotees also prefer spending the day at home by listening to stories from Bhagavad Purana or chanting bhajans dedicated to Lord Vishnu. People who are under medications, having a poor health condition or disease, pregnant women and those who have just delivered a baby are relieved from observing this vrat. Therefore, it is advised not to keep this fast as one should not torture their body in the act of following customs and religious traditions. Instead, they can compensate for the fast by donating food and clothes to the poor and needy.