KATHMANDU, July 20: Hindus across Nepal are celebrating the Harishayani Ekadashi festival today, the first day of the four-month holy period of Chaturmas, with fasting and worship and prayer to Lord Vishnu.
They also observe one of the most significant fastings on this day dedicated to Lord Vishnu, regarded as the creator of the universe.
Ekadashi or the eleventh lunar day of Shukla Paksha or the bright fortnight of the month of Shrawan is marked by rituals such as worshipping Lord Vishnu, reciting the holy scriptures relating to him and singing hymns praising Lord Vishnu, among others.
On the day of Harishayani Ekadashi, Hindus plant Tulasi (holy basil) on their yards, which they worship as a form of Lord Vishnu for next four months till the day of Haribodhini Ekadashi, the concluding day of the Chaturmas. It is believed that by worshiping the oxygen-rich plant basil, Lord Vishnu grants his devotees their wishes.
The Chaturmas, a period from the 11th day of the waxing moon of the month of Ashadh (Ashadh Shukla Ekadashi) to the 11th day of waxing moon of the month of Kartik (Kartik Shukla Ekadashi) is considered a holy period for the worship of Lord Vishnu, said former chairperson of the Nepal Calendar Fixation Committee and religious scholar, Prof Dr Ramchandra Gautam.
Prof Dr Gautam shared that there are altogether 24 Ekadashsi in the lunar calendar in a year. Of the two dozen Ekadashis, Harishayani Ekadashi and Prabodhini Ekasadhi are considered the great ones.
Devotees fast on this day and visit the temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.
Since the temples, stupas are closed for the public due to the risk of COVID-19, devotees can offer their prayers and worship on the premises of the temples adhering to the health safety protocols.