On October 27, Hindus will be observing the Papankosh Ekadashi. This day, marked by harsh penance and devotion, is dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. This Ekadashi is considered very auspicious for a devotee to get rid of his sins and the consequent punishments. It mainly occurs in the months of October and September and on the 11th day of the Shukla Paksh (the waxing phase of the moon).
How It is Observed
Papankosh Ekadashi is marked by a day-long fast with one time saatvik meal before sunset. Apart from the fast, some devotees also observe a silence vow (maun vrat). Moreover, it is believed that a devotee should not utter a lie or conduct any sinful act while observing the rituals. A devotee should be awake throughout the day and night and dedicate himself or herself in meditating and chanting Lord Vishnu’s mantras and bhajans. Some also consider reading Vishnu Sahasranam as favourable on this day. Before breaking the fast, devotees should donate food or money to the Brahmans.
If some devotees cannot observe the fast, they can donate food and other stuff to the Brahmins and achieve the same merits. Some even conduct Brahman Bhoj where they feed a number of Brahmans and seek their blessings.
Why It Is Significant
The Papankosh Ekadashi is believed to have so much power that all the sins of a devotee is removed. Observing fast and devotion for Lord Vishnu on this day is considered equivalent to going on pilgrimage. According to a Hindu Mythology, it was Lord Krishna who told the oldest Pandava, Yudhishthir, the importance of this vrat. He told him that worshipping Lord Vishnu on this day will atone the sins of not only the devotee but those in his/her mother’s family, father’s family and wife’s or husband’s family. Fasting on Ekadashi is sixteen times more powerful and meritorious than sacrificing 100 horses and performing 1000 Rajasuya sacrifices
Papankosh Ekadashi is the most powerful medium to attain liberation, good health, wealth, food and other desires. It is also said that people who observe this fast are elevated to heaven as all their hellish sins are atoned.
Watching It From A Feminist Perspective
Papandosh Ekadashi is a gender-neutral and caste-neutral ritual with no barrier of age. Not only the affluent people but also the lower class or caste people can also perform this worship and gain equal merits. But what I have always wondered is that where is Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu's consort in these rituals? Why is she venerated only once, during Diwali, while Lord Vishnu is venerated at least once every month? Whether believe it or not, Hindu festivals are male-dominated, whether it is about the gods who are worshipped or the priests who offer the prayers. The worship of goddesses is restricted to special occasions like Diwali or Dussehra that comes once a year. It is merely a tokenism of assigning representation to women which restricts them under the marginalised sections and does not allow them to attain the seats of power.