By Swami Harshananda
One of the most well-known and popular days of religious observances in the lunar calendar is the ekādaśī. It is the eleventh day from the full-moon or the new-moon of each month. It is considered as a ‘vrata’ or a religious observance, characterized mainly by fasting.
Out of the several ekādaśīs considered as even more sacred, Bhimaikādaśi is one. According to the Matsyapurāna. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is said to have imparted the knowledge of the Bhimadvādaṣī vrata including those rites to be performed on the daśami (the tenth) and the ekādaśī (the eleventh) days to Bhīma, the second of the Pāṇḍava princes. Hence it is named as the ‘Bhimaikādaśi’ and ‘Bhīmadvādaśi. They are observed on the eleventh and the twelfth of the bright fortnight of the month of Māgha (February), with or without the conjunction of the star Puṣya. The latter day used to be called as ‘Kalyāninī’. The method for observing this rite is:
- On the tenth day (Māgha śukla daśamī) the votary is expected to take a bath after applying ghee to his body and worship Viṣnu with the mantra ‘Om namo nārāyanāya’ followed by the worship of Garuḍa, Śiva and Gaṇeśa.
- On the eleventh day (ekādaśī) a total fast is to be observed.
- On the next day (dvādaśi) he has to bathe in a river, raise a maṇḍapa or a pavilion in front of his house, hang a jar full of water but with a hole at the bottom.
- He should receive the drops of water on his palm repeating the name of God throughout the night.
- He should perform homa (offering oblations into a duly consecrated fire) the next morning with the help of twelve priests learned in the Vedas, honoring them suitably at the end.
- On the thirteenth day (trayodaśī), 13 cows have to be donated.
- He should then listen to the itihāsas and purāṇas.
- Matsyapurāna 69.19-65
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore