Pious hindus observe fast on every Ekadashi, the eleventh lunar day of every fortnight. They don’t eat cereals and pulses on this day. They drink only milk and tulsi(holy basil) water. Some take fruits.
Margazhi is the month where in the northern hemisphere, winter solstice occurs.The early morning atmosphere is rich in ozone. Ladies wake up early in the morning and draw huge kolams in front of their houses and devotees rise early and visit temples early in the morning.
The ekadashi of the hindu month margashira( according to lunar cycle) is observed as Vaikunta Ekadashi or mukkoti ekadashi(equivalent to 3 crore ekadashis) by South Indians.
The legend behind Vaikunta ekadashi.
Sri Nammalwar who was a great devotee in Sri Ramanuja lineage entered the spiritual abode Vaikunta. Lord Balaji( Vishnu incarnate) was waiting at the door( swarga vaasal) on Dhanurmasa ekadashi to receive his great devotee, so generally devotees believe that on this day swarga vaasal(gates of heaven) is open.
According to mythology, it was on this day, during the great sagar manthan(churning of milk ocean) the nectar( amrut) emerged out of the ocean.
On this day the gate of heaven ( swarga vaasal) is open to all devotees in the temples of Lord Vishnu. Thousands of devotees throng Tirupati, Sri rangam, Tiruvallikeni, Pittsburgh and other abodes of Lord Vishnu. I remember the serpentine queue running to more than 5 kms outside the famous Devagiri temple near my Banashankari house in Bangalore. My MIL and FIL were regular to this temple on saturdays.
Devotees who seek salvation(moksha) believe passing through this gate will beget them the special mercy and blessing of Lord Vishnu. They fast and chant prayers of Lord Vishnu. Some stay awake through out the night by chanting prayers of Lord Vishnu and some even play the game of ‘Mokshapat’ or parama pada sopanam( tamil), the snakes and ladders(English).
Science behind fasting:
According to scriptures, fasting helps create a harmonius relationship between the body and soul. There is a control over our mind, senses and desires. Meditation reins the mind.
The influence of the phases of the moon has an effect on our body and mind since our body is made up of fluids, so ancient hindu scientists recommended fasting and meditation based on the moon cycle, such as on ekadashi.
Fasting is like servicing our body as in car service. When we don’t consume cereals and pulses, it does not strain our digestive system. It causes a natural slow down of the system. The fruits and water flushes out the toxins from our body and empowers our body with more strength.
The ekadashi fast is broken the next lunar day( dvadashi) by partaking nourishing herbs and fruits. Nellikkai( gooseberry), agatti keerai(leaves of humming bird) acts as a toning agent on our digestive tract and sundakkai(turkey berry) removes the remaining toxins.
So again, there is a scientific reasoning behind ekadashi, thanks to our ancestors who have designed such beautiful practices by weaving science, health and leisure.
Courtesy: facts on fasting- by S.R Kishore kumar on podhigai TV
facts on ekadashi: hindu devotional site