#Festivals of India

Festivals Via Feminist Lens: Vijaya Ekadashi Should Also Weave Stories About Women’s Victory

Important Dates Phalgun Month, pradosh vrat dates, jivitputrika festival, hindu festival calendar, pradosh vrat

Vijaya Ekadashi is celebrated on the month of Phalgun during Krishna Paksha. On this day devotees worship Lord Vishnu. As the name of the vrat suggests, Vijaya Ekadashi is a Hindu vrat observed to achieve success in life. It is believed that anyone who fasts on this day achieves success and prosperity and gets rid of the sins of past birth.

How is it celebrated?

On this day, devotees wake up early in the morning, dress up and worship Lord Vishnu. They observe a day-long fast and break it on the next day which is called as Ekadashi Parana. Devotees offer fruits, flowers and especially Tulsi leaves, incense sticks, betel nuts, and coconut to seek the supreme God’s blessings. Some even organise a special feast to commemorate Lord Vishnu. The puja also involves reading and reciting the vrat katha of Vijaya Ekadashi.

Also Read: Festivals Via Feminist Lens: Utpanna Ekadashi And Its Root In Gender Fluidity

The story behind Vijaya Ekadashi

It is believed that the hindu vrat of Vijaya Ekadashi was first observed by Lord Rama in Ramayana. According to the legend, when Sita was abducted by Ravana, Rama and Lakshman set out in search of her which brought them at a seashore. The sea was too deep and large but only after crossing it Rama and Lakshman could reach Lanka and Ashoka Vatika where Sita was imprisoned. Subsequently, in order to please Lord Sea and make a way through the vast sea, Sage Vakdalabhya advised Rama to observe a fast on the day of Vijaya Ekadashi. Rama’s devotion pleased Lord Sea and ultimately, he could succeed in bringing Sita back to Ayodhya.

Watching from the feminist lens

Vijaya Ekadashi is a powerful festival that affirms devotees’ faith in achieving success in every impossible task in life. It makes wins a possible and approachable reality irrespective of who is striving for it. All that is required is hard work, devotion and faith. However, in the sexist and patriarchal society, conquest and victory is often related to men and rarely with women. In older times, men used to be on the battlefields fighting with enemies and conquering territories. While women were supposed to live in purdah, serve their husbands/fathers/sons and pray for their success. The concept of women’s victory had nothing to do with their individual prospects but was related to the man’s success. If the man wins, the women of his family win and if he loses, the women of his family were at risk of being pawned, raped or killed. But today, when no kingdoms are at war, why are we still following the patriarchal ideologies? Even today, if a man is caught up in controversy, the rivals target the women of his family. Just recently, MS Dhoni’s daughter received rape threats because her father lost a match in IPL.

Today women have their own identities and aims and are winning their battles. Then why should the idea of Vijaya Ekadashi be manifested in a male conquest alone? Yes, the vrat story is a truth that we cannot change. But at least we can change the way we understand it. If we commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana on Vijaya Ekadashi, we should also be reminded of Sita’s struggle that she fought outside the battlefield. Be it asserting her resistance to Ravan’s advances, her faith in her husband’s prowess and ultimately her win over the gendered world when she decided to go back into the earth, Sita was always a warrior and a winner. And so is every woman. So celebrate Vijaya Ekadashi to remind yourself that women deserve to choose their own battles and can also win them.

Also Read: Women Mythological Characters Who Were Feminists