Though it is known as Jaya Ekadashi in North India, people in South India celebrate it as Bhisma Ekadasi in Andhra Pradesh. The same festival is treated as Bheesma Ekadashi in Karnataka where huge number of worshipers of Lord Vishnu throng the temples on the day. People observe fast on the auspicious day as part of offering their prayers to the deity. Special pujas too are performed dedicated to Lord Shiva on the same day. Hence, the fast is held in high esteem regarded as doubly beneficial.
Jaya Ekadashi Legends
Jaya Ekadashi is also known as Bhishma Ekadashi because of the historical facts associated with it. According to the legend, the term got coined so because Bhishma considered this day to reach heavenly abode with Brahman, the Supreme Soul. Post Mahabharata, Bhishma rendered Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram to Pandavas on the same day while still being on the bed of arrows. This is one reason why the entire Hindu community all over the world regards the day in the most respectful manner. All the Hindu devotees begin the day with fast and continue it throughout the day to cleanse themselves of the sins committed by them.
Jaya Ekadashi Observances
Attaining salvation (Moksha) is one of the primary objectives for others to observe fast on Jaya Ekadashi. People are left with the choice of observing a full or partial fast on the day as per their convenience and capacity. Preparations for the fast begin a day before Jaya Ekadashi with the consumption of a single meal alone. Ardent devotees begin their day early by waking up early and taking a bath before dedicating their time to Lord Vishnu. Ekadashi Parana (fast breaking ritual) is followed once the fast has been completed successfully.
In contrast, there are suggestions for observing the fast on two consecutive days. Firstly, it is regarded as Smartha meant for people to attend with their family, which coincides with Vaishnava Ekadashi. The other is for those who are single, widowed or aged planning to attain Moksha. During the fast of 24 hours, people abstain themselves from food completely. However, the intake of fruits, vegetables, milk and dry fruits is allowed. Staunch devotees pay due respect to Lord Vishnu and throng temples in large numbers to sing hymns and to listen stories about Vishnu.
People observing Jaya Ekadashi continue praying to God till the next day morning. Breaking the fast is performed in the most sacred manner, which is done by taking a holy bath and then lighting a lamp before God. This will officially mark the breaking of vrat. Devotees firmly believe that all these events help them from fighting demonic influences effectively. Reaching the abode of Lord Vishnu too will be materialized in the most sacred manner. Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is also worshiped as part of the ritual of clearing their sins and attaining salvation.