There is always uncertainty when it comes to fasting on Ekadashi like what to eat and what not to eat on Ekadashi. So here we are to help with the set norms and beliefs that will guide your way.
Every fasting occasion in India is said to have some set of rules to be followed in order to complete the fast. The holy scriptures guide us with the course of action that we need to tread to fulfill our deeds.
Not everyone can read the scriptures and decipher the texts accurately. This is where our older generation becomes the savior as they have done it all.
Why Ekadashi Fast is Important?
Ekadashi Vrat is also called Hari Vassar. It is celebrated by both Vaishnavas and Non-Vaishnavas with equal fervor. It is a day to devote yourself to Lord Vishnu and abandon all worldly pleasures.
Yagnas and sacrifices are made on this day. It is believed that by observing Ekadashi Fasts regularly, our forefathers attain heaven and lead a peaceful afterlife.
The universe exists even after the said billions of years because of a natural balance. Balance is necessary for our body too. Fasting maintains that balance.
We tend to get busy in our daily lives and inevitably put spirituality in the backseat. Ekadashi is the day to bring it to the front.
Ekadashi was chosen by the rishis as the day of spirituality. On this day one dedicates oneself to the extreme and chants His name. Fasting is deemed to be a way of offering gratitude and penance for our misdeeds.
Ekadashi falls every 15 days according to the Hindu calendar. The elders still adhere to this tradition, though it is losing its importance with modern minds.
Ekadashi falls every 15th day as per the Hindu calendar. To maintain the cycle, one must fast on each of these days.
What To Eat on Ekadashi Fast
The most common haste is what can be eaten. Most people avoid cooked food, rice products, and salt but consume other products as usual in the name of fasting.
This is not believed to be the right trail as per the learned men of the scriptures. There is a proper spelled-out list that enlists the condiments and food items.
On the day of Ekadashi, we are allowed to consume the following food items:
- All fruits
- All nuts
- Oils made from nuts
- Buckwheat (Singhade ka atta)
- Black pepper
- Fresh salt
- Fresh turmeric
What Vegetables Can You Eat on Ekadashi?
Then comes the question as to which vegetables are eligible to be cooked on this auspicious day. The meal is to be kept as simple as possible.
They can eat the following vegetables on Ekadashi:
- Sweet potatoes
What Not To Eat on Ekadashi Fast
Simple and bland food is cooked on Ekadashi. The devotees spend one day away from all the luxuries and fancy dinings of their daily life. Hence, most things are forbidden from consumption.
- Eggplants (baingan)
- All Types of Beans
- Karela (Bitter Lemon)
- Bhindi (Lady Fingers)
- Banana Flower
- All Types of Dal
- Sesame Seeds (til)
- Cumin Seeds (jeera)
- Asafoetida (hing)
- Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- Mustard Seeds (Sarson)
- Tamarind (imli)
- Fennel (saunf)
- Celery (ajwain)
- Poppy Seeds (Khas Khas)
- Kalonji Seeds
- Cardamom (ilaichi)
- Cloves (long)
Timing of Ekadashi Fast
The duration from one sunrise to another accounts for one complete day, similarly to the moonrise. For Ekadashi, sunrise is considered.
The time before sunrise is considered to be the previous day and you are allowed to eat or do anything as you wish. Fast rules do not apply then.
How To Break Ekadashi Fast?
The day next to Ekadashi is called Dwadashi meaning the twelfth day. When the sun rises for Dwadashi, the Ekadashi fast comes to end.
You should take a bath in the morning, chant Hari’s name, and eat food like any other regular day.
Rules of Ekadashi Fast
Ekadashi fast is considered to be one of the most sacred and difficult fasts among all the others. It is observed in order to please Lord Vishnu.
There are certain rules already mentioned in the scriptures as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable on the day of fasting.
Following are the rules of Ekadashi Fast:
- Avoid sleeping in the afternoon
It is mentioned in the ancient texts that when back in the day, the sages observed the Ekadashi fast they used to relinquish their desire to sleep.
They used to be awake all night and chant the glories of the Lord. but in the modern-day, people are not used to such adversaries and hence do not practice this tradition.
- Don’t consume any grains
Quitting food on the days of fast is common but the complete abdication of all food grains is unique to Ekadashi fast. The devotee is forbidden from consuming grain in any form.
If the food offered to the lord is made of grain, the devotee is forbidden from accepting it. Although, it can be kept to be consumed the next day.
- Skip work
The main motive of the fast is to leave all daily chores and submit oneself truly at the feet of God. The sages have repeatedly stated the importance of submitting one’s soul to the Lord.
Fasting is a way to do the same. However, in our day-to-day life, we overlook any possibility to devote ourselves completely. We often cite our routine as an excuse to do so.
- Maintain peace and meditate
The fast is complete when all is in harmony with nature’s order. Then is true peace achieved. Fasting requires attention and meditation.
Peace and calm are two pillars of attention and meditation. We should at all times maintain a calm and composed demeanor.
Fasting on Ekadashi is all about true lordship. It is about you worshipping the Lord. Make sure to spend every minute of your waking self chanting Hari’s name.
Keep him in your heart and mind. In the scriptures, it is said that doing so cleanses our souls. Also, we are forgiven for our generous mistakes in the course of life.
You should never miss out on any Ekadashi fast of the year. Maintaining continuity is the key to atonement. It is said that every being from the age of 8 to 80 should fast on Ekadashi.
The only acceptable excuse is when your health does not allow you to go through the day without falling sick.
- Quitting Desires
One should refrain from acting on pure impulse on the day of fasting. All the worldly desires of the mind and heart should be completely abandoned.
One should not hurt any living being of nature, lead a simple life, and also observe celibacy for the day.
It is said that donating clothes, food, and money to the needy and poor is good karma. Doing charity on the day of the Ekadashi fast is considered to be very auspicious.
One should visit temples and grant donations to brahmans and the needy.
In case, one misses or breaks an Ekadashi fast Nirjala Ekadashi fast must be observed to maintain the cycle.
Nirjala literally translates to without water. Ekadashi is a sacred fast that is meant to be continued on every Ekadashi. For anyone who misses or accidentally breaks their fast should observe the Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat.
Tale behind Nirjala Ekadashi:
There is a tale behind the existence of Nirjala Ekadashi. In Mahabharat, the five Pandavas and their wife always kept the Ekadashi vrat except for Bhima.
Bhima was so fond of eating that he was unable to control his cravings. Then Lord Krishna advised him to fast once a year without water in order to compensate for missing out on all the other fasts.
This is the reason why Nirjala Ekadashi is also called Bhimseni Ekadashi and Pandav Ekadashi. This has since served as a solution for anyone who is unable to fast as per the customs.
Many people think it is easier to keep one fast rather than keep 25 fasts a year. But this is not easy either. Nirjala Ekadashi is annually remarked in the month of Trivikarma which is the hottest month of the year.
Surviving without food and water is very challenging in such adverse conditions. For the year 2022, Nirjala Ekadashi was declared on 10 June 2022.
What Can We Eat For Nirjala Ekadashi Fast?
Nirjala Ekadashi fast is also called Bhimseni Ekadashi. There is a short story in Mahabharat behind this name.
It is believed that observing one Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat in a year can effectively compensate for all the other Ekadashi fasts of the year.
In this fast, the devotee concedes to drink even a drop of water. But there are other things that can be eaten. These include milk, fruits, tulsi leaves, and more.
Why is Rice Strictly Prohibited on Ekadashi?
There is a mythological reason behind this directive of the scriptures. It states that the humans of the Kalyug are mortal and lustful. They are incapable of self-control.
Since we basically survive on food grains, we are forbidden from consuming any kind of food grain. Especially rice. However, as mentioned earlier there is always a logical reason for everything.
Consuming rice on Ekadashi is not allowed because of the position of the moon. The moon affects all the water bodies present on this earth. Therefore, it also affects the water present in our bodies. A human body is seventy percent water and having rice or for that matter of fact, any grain can lead to health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No. You should avoid having cheese on Ekadashi. Though there is no written rule that condemns you from eating cheese if you think meticulously it resists the basic ideology behind fasting.
Yes, you can have curd on Ekadashi. There are no restrictions on the consumption of curd. To read about the benefits of curd, click here!
If you are fasting, then you should not eat chocolates or any confectionery.
No, as a matter of fact, it comes under the list of restricted food items. You are not allowed to consume honey as you are stealing it away from a fellow resident of the planet.
Coffee is considered to be a foreign drink by the scriptures. You should avoid drinking coffee on Ekadashi.
Mustard oil is a seed oil and all the seeds oils are prohibited from consumption on Ekadashi. You can use fruit and vegetable oils instead. Or also, ghee.
Yes, it is swallowed to consume all types of nuts on Ekadashi.
Yes, it is swallowed to consume all types of dried fruits on Ekadashi.
Oats are also a type of grain. Consuming grains is prohibited in Ekadashi.
Fasting is a tradition that is slowly dying. People do follow the rituals but do not exactly know the reason behind what they are doing.
In such an age, being confused about what is right and what is not is common. We tried helping you out with some basic knowledge and rules.
If this article helped you to understand your customs a bit better, then do spread the gloves. Share with your friends and family.
*featured image credits: Anikulkarni – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Meet the literarian of our group! She loves crafts, paintings, poetry, food, and can lip-sync dialogues from F.R.I.E.N.D.S all day. The world of words fascinates her, a true logophile. A typical millennial with an old touch.