* updated with 2017 dates
Ekadashi Upvaas is very important & beneficial for all householders. Pujya Bapuji says that "Upvaas" means Up - Vaas i.e., to stay close to God. The purpose of fasting is to experience peace & bliss. Eating less enables the mind & body to function more effectively.
Rules of Ekadashi Vow
On the night of Dashami, exercise complete celibacy and abstain from worldly pleasures. On the morning of Ekadashi, do not use toothpaste or any form of stick; instead chew leaves from lemon, jambul or mango tree and clean your throat using your fingers. It is also forbidden to pluck leaves from trees, hence only use leaves that have fallen off. If this is not possible, gargle your mouth twelve times using water. Then after taking morning bath, recite Gita or listen to it while read by purohits. One must take an oath in front of Lord,
"Today, I will not speak to people engaged in stealing, deceit or sinful activities and will not act to hurt anyone. I will offer food to cows, brahmins and others to please them. I will stay awake tonight and do kirtan. I will do japa of 'AUM NAMO BHAGAWATE VASUDEVAYA', the mantra composed of twelve syllables or my Gurumantra, will make Ram, Krishna, Narayana and other Vishnusahasranaam the ornaments of my neck."
Take this oath while remembering Shri Vishnu and pray to him: " Oh, Master of all three worlds! You are my saving grace; so, please offer me the strength to complete this vow."
Maintaining reticence, doing japa, reading holy books, doing kirtan, staying awake in the night are all supremely beneficial during the vow of Ekadashi.
On the day of Ekadashi, do not consume drinks make from impure stuff. Do not drink cold drinks, acids or fruit juices stored in containers. Do not eat meals twice. Do not consume ice-cream or fried foods. Sustaining on fruits or fruit juices extracted at home or little milk or water is specially beneficial. On the three days of this vow (Dashami, Ekadashi and Dwadashi), avoid eating on brass utensils, meat, onion, garlic, lentils like masoor, urad, chana, Kodo (a type of grain), spinach, honey, oil and atyambupan (drinking excessive water) - Do not consume these. On the day before (Dashami) and the day after (Dwadashi), have a one time meal of Havishyanna (Jawar, wheat, moong, rock salt, black pepper, sugar, cow ghee, others).
If you are eating only fruits, avoid consuming cauliflower, carrot, shaljam, spinach, kulfa spinach and others. Mango, grapes, banana, nuts, pistachios and other elixir fruits must be consumed.
One must absolutely abstain from gambling, sleeping, drinking, vilification of others, backbiting, stealing, violence, copulation, expressing anger and saying lie or cheating and other sinful activities. One must also not ride on the back of a bull.
If you have mistakenly spoken to someone who vilifies others, then you must observe the sun to rid yourself of this offence.and also worship Shri Hari by lighting lamp and burning incense and ask for forgiveness. One must also not sweep floors in the home, as it carries the fear of killing small ants or other microscopic organisms. Do not cut hair on this day. Speak softly and do not speak excessively as it can sometimes lead to saying things which are unworthy. Always speak the truth. On this day, donate grains to others as per your capacity but never consume food that has been offered on donation. Consume only after offering it to the lord along with Tulsi leaves.
If any relative dies on the day of Ekadashi, then one must observe vow on that day and then offer its fruits to the deceased. One must also observe the vow of Ekadashi while submerging the ashes in Shri Ganga ji and offer its fruits for the living. Considering every living being as an embodiment of the supreme self, one must never try to deceive or cheat anyone. You must not express anger against someone who insults you or says bitter words to you. Patience always bears sweetness. Cultivate compassion in your heart. Observing the vow in the above said manner receives the supreme fruit. On Dwadashi, offer sweets, donations to brahmins and circumambulate them in order to please them.
Rule for closing vow:
On Dwadashi, make fourteen pieces of seven seeds of roasted gram (chana) and throw them towards your back while sitting at the place of worship. 'All my physical, verbal, mental sins of my past seven lives have been undone. ' - With this faith, take seven handful(anjali) of water and eat seven seeds of gram (chana) to finish the vow.