In Hinduism, Ekadashi is a day of fasting. It occurs on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. So there are two Ekadashi days in a month and twenty-four Ekadashi days in each calendar year. However, in the lunar leap year, two additional Ekadashi days occur. The importance of observing Ekadashi vrats has been given in various Saatan Hindu scriptures. Each Ekadashi vrat has particular benefits and blessings that a devotee can attain by the observance of the day properly. So Shattila Ekadashi vrat has its particular significance.
Shattila Ekadashi occurs on the eleventh day of the waning phase (Krishna Paksha)of the month of Magh (January-February). The significance of Krishnapaksha’s ‘Shattila’ Ekadashi vrat in the month of Magh is described in Bhavishyottarapurana. Lord Krishna narrated the significance of this Ekadashi vrat to king Yudhisthara and before that he (Krishna) had said about it to Devarshi Narada.
As per the legend and Hindu texts, once upon a time there lived a rich lady in this material world. She regularly observed vrats, worshipped the deities and gave away so much of her wealth to Brahmins with devotion. She duly honored the Vaisnavas, but never donated food to satisfy them. Therefore, Lord wanted to remind her about this fact. He took the form of a beggar and approached her and begged for food. The lady was reluctant to give food in alms to the beggar and therefore drove him away. When the beggar persisted asking for food, she insulted him by dropping a lump of clay in his begging bowl. The beggar thanked her and left her house.
As the lady went inside the house and went to eat, she saw that all the food she cooked had turned to clay. She had to starve after this incident. So the health of the lady started deteriorating day by day due to hunger. Despite her wealth, she gradually became ill. Realizing the sin she committed, she began to pray to God.
At last Lord appeared to her in her dream and told her that she herself had brought her misfortune. Then the lady asked God to find a way out of this danger. Lord then told her that if she observed Shattila Ekadashi vrat on the certain day and gave alms to the poor, she would get back everything she had lost. The lady did everything as Lord suggested her and she got back her wealth and happiness.
Shattila Ekadashi is very significant to devotees. Lord said to Narada, “O Narad! excessive lust should be avoided. Donate sesame seeds, clothes and food as much as you can. Poverty, physical suffering, misfortune, etc. are eradicated due to the effect of the Shattila Ekadashi Vrat. If one observers this Ekadashi vrat according to the rules, one can be free from all sins.”
We also get the rules and significance of Shattila Ekadashi vrat from another mythological conversation between sage Dalabhya and sage Pulasta. Once the sage Dalabhya said to sage Pulasta, “In this material world, people are involved in sinful killing of trees, killing of cows, stealing of other people’s property, etc. activities. So they suffer the torment of hell. How can they get rid of this suffering?” Pulasta replied, “O great sage! You asked me an important but secret question. In the month of Magh, after bathing and being free from six inherent vices (lust, anger, greed, pride, delusion and jealousy), a devotee has to worship Lord Krishna. If there is any interruption in worship, Krishna’s name should be remembered. After worshipping, he has to perform a Homa Yajna, prepare an offering with sandalwood, aguru (a kind of fragrant wood), camphor and sugar etc. and offer it to Lord. Krishna is to be worshipped chanting the mantra, ‘Krishna Krishna Kripalustvamagatinang Gatirbhava’ and offering Kushmand (gourd), coconut or one hundred gubakas (betel nuts). Saying ‘O Krishna, be pleased with me’, he has to donate a pitcher full of water, an umbrella, clothes, shoes, cows and sesame seeds to the Brahmins. Black sesame is extremely good for bathing and granulation. O Dwijattam! The duration of the giver’s heavenly life will be equal to the number of the sesame seeds that are regenerated from the given seeds. The devotee should bathe with the water mixed with sesame seeds, apply sesame seed paste on his body, mix seasame seeds with water and perform tarpan with that water, eat sesame meals, and donate sesame seeds. These provisions destroy all types of sins. This is why the name of this Ekadashi is Shattila.”
As a Vaishnava devotee you should observe Shattila Ekadashi vrat following the scriptural rules. You have to take a bath very early in the morning on the Ekadashi day and decorate the altar of worship and place pictures of Lord Vishnu and Krishna there. Worship should be done by chanting the mantra of God. Tulasi (basil) water, incense, flowers, fruits etc. should be offered to God. The fast should be started on the morning of Ekadashi day and ended on the Dwadshi day with the worship of God. Many devotees eat only sesame seeds during fasting. Again many devotees eat milk and fruits during fasting. Since sesame seeds are very important for observing Shattila Ekadashi vrat, on this day you have to mix some sesame seeds with bath water, make a paste of sesame seeds and apply it on your body, offer sesame seeds in Homagni (fire of sacrifice), donate sesame seeds to the poor and eat some sesame seeds.
Anyone can gain wealth, possessions and good health by observing Shattila Ekadashi vrat with full faith and devotion. Donating food, clothes, valuables and money to the poor on this day can confer great merits. If a devotee observe Shattila Ekadashi vrat properly, he/she will never run short of food and prosperity in his/her house .
This year, Shattila Ekadashi vrat will be observed on Sunday, February 7, 2021. The Ekadashi tithi will begin at 06:26 AM, Jan 23 and end at 04:47 AM, Feb 08.