Mohini Ekadashi occurs in the Vaisakha month as per both the Amanta and the Purnimanta Calendars.
Mohini Ekadashi is the eleventh day from the Amavasya day (Shukla Paksha Ekadashi). In the year 2021, it occurs on Saturday, 22nd May 2021 and Sunday, 23rd May 2021. The exact duration of the Ekadashi Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
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Mohini Ekadashi – Legend
As per the legend, it is believed that Sri Maha Vishnu had taken the avathar of Mohini, the female form on this day.
Sri Maha Vishnu had taken the female form for providing Amrut (nectar) from the cosmic ocean to the Devas.
Devas, the celestial beings and the asuras, the demons were always at war. The Asuras made it a point to disturb and distress the Devas at every occasion. Most of the times, it was only Sri Vishnu who came to their rescue.
Sri Vishnu had advised the Devas that they could strive for eternity only if they consume the Amrut, i.e. nectar from the cosmic ocean.
He asked them to arrange to churn the cosmic ocean with Kurma (Tortoise) as the base, Meru as the catalyst and snake vasuki as the rope. He Himself appeared as Kurma for the purpose.
When Devas tried the churning, the Asuras too joined them as they also wished for the nectar. The asuras kept to the head side of the Vasuki and the Devas had the tail side.
The first outcome was halahala poison which was partaken of by Lord Shiva. But Sri Parvathi Devi ensured that the poison stayed at His neck. For this reason, Lord Shiva is called Sri Neela Kanta.
Then came Airavatha, the white elephant, the Parijatha tree, the wish granting tree, Uchchaisrava, the holy horse, Chandra, the moon, Dhanvanthri with nectar and Sri Mahalakshmi. When Sri Mahalakshmi had emerged, they were mesmerized by Her beauty.
The Asuras usurped the Amrut Kalash (pot of nectar) from Dhanvanthri and took it with them. Devas appealed to Sri Vishnu for help.
Sri Vishnu took the female form of Mohini. He enticed the Asuras with His looks and grabbed the Amrut Kalash from them.
He asked the Devas and Asuras to sit on either side of His Mohini form. He kept the Amrut Kalash on the dried grass named dharba and carried it. He gave the looks on the Asura side and kept pouring Amrut to Devas.
On consuming Amrut, Devas got the permanent position in Deva lok / Amar lok.
As per the legend, the person named Dhrishta Buddhi had observed this Ekadashi Vrat and attained salvation.
The place Bhadravathi was in the banks of Saraswathi river. It was ruled by the King named Dhruthiman. He was a good person and an ardent devotee of Sri Maha Vishnu.
The King had five children. The fifth child Dhrishta Buddhi was a good for nothing person. While growing up, he brought ill fame and disrepute to the King through his misdeeds. The King’s efforts to put his son in the right path proved futile.
So, the King had decided to desert his son. He sent him out of the palace and disowned him. He had warned his son not to return to the palace.
Dhrishta Buddhi had sold off his jewels and garments for sustaining. When he was left with nothing to sell, he had gone into the forest. He kept wandering hither and thither.
Dhrishta Buddhi had sighted the ashram of Sage Koundinya in the forest and surrendered there. One day, he accompanied the Sage to the river.
Sage Koundinya was taking bath. Some of the water from the Sage got sprinkled on Dhrishta Buddhi.
Dhrishta Buddhi suddenly felt a change in him. His entire thought process and outlook had changed. For the first time in his life, he had realized that he had made lots of mistakes and that he should alleviate his sins.
He bowed down to the Sage Koundinya and sought advice.
The extant month was Vaisakha. The Sage advised him to observe Shukla Paksha Ekadashi Vrat praying to Sri Mohini Avathar of Sri Vishnu.
Dhrishta Buddhi had accordingly observed the Vrat and his sins were alleviated. He attained salvation.
Mohini Ekadashi – rituals
The general rituals followed for Ekadashi Vrats is given below:
-The exact time of dawn of Ekadashi tithi is ascertained either from family elders / astrologers. It is mentioned in the Holy Almanac (Panchang) as well. Even daily Calendars provide the information.
-The idol or picture of Sri Vishnu is decorated with flowers. Incense sticks are burned. Diyas are lit. Pujas are done with tulsi leaves. Slokas or stotras of Sri Maha Vishnu including Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama are recited with devotion. Srimad Bhagavad Gitaa is also recited.
-At the end of the puja, aarti is done. Prasad is distributed to the family members.
-Devotees of Lord Maha Vishnu observe strict fasting from the dawn of Ekadashi.
-They do not sleep on the night of Ekadashi. At this time, tales of Sri Maha Vishnu are recited by the elders. Others listen to the stories.
-Various bhajans and kirtans are held.
-The fast shall continue till the sunrise of the next day, i.e., Dwadashi.
-Those devotees who cannot do fasting due to medical or other reasons can take sattvic food. Mostly prasadams and fruits are partaken.
-Making daan / donation to the needy on Ekadashi day is believed to please Sri Maha Vishnu.
-On Dwadashi day, unless it happens to be another Vrat day, a nutritious meal is partaken to balance the internal physical effects of fasting on the previous day.
Specially for Mohini Ekadashi, the following are followed:
-The devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath with sesame seeds and dharba (kush grass).
-The breaking of the fast on Dwadashi is done by partaking of milk.
Mohini Ekadashi – other names
The Vrat is also called as Gauna Mohini Ekadashi and Vaishnava Mohini Ekadashi.
Mohini Ekadashi – possible benefits
– Overcoming of sadness and remorse.
– Auspicious benefits (punyam) equivalent to giving thousand cows as daan.
– Alleviation of the birth and death cycle
– Auspicious benefits (punyam) equivalent to going for pilgrimage to holy places.
Importance should be given to the sincere prayers to Sri Maha Vishnu.