Haribodhani Ekadashi is one of the major festivals of Hindus. The festival falls right after Dashain and Tihar in the bright fortnight of Kartik (seventh month of Lunar Calendar). The day is also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi or Devotthan Ekadashi. Prabodhani translates to awakening eleventh. On this day, Lord Vishnu, who slept on the Shayani Ekadashi, wakes up hearing the prayers of Tulsi (a basil plant). Further, on this auspicious day, a marriage ceremony is carried out between the Tulsi Plant and the Shaligram (Lord Vishnu, as black-colored holy stone). The custom is called Tulsi Vivaah.
According to the Hindu religion, people consider Lord Vishnu the creator of this universe. They worship Lord Vishnu at various festivals throughout the year. Haribodhani Ekadashi is one of them. The festival also marks the end of four-month-long Chaturmas, a holy period during which Lord Vishnu goes into the deep slumber.
What Does Ekadashi Mean?
The good time to worship gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion is all based on Lunar Calenders. And Ekadashi means the eleventh day of the Lunar Month. As the day is all dedicated to Lord Vishnu, we also know it as Hari Vasara.
There are 24 Ekadashi’s in a year and 2 of them fall in every month. On the day of Ekadashi, Hindus worship Lord Vishnu with great enthusiasm. They visit temples and worship Lord Vishnu. Likewise, some also go to water the Pipal tree (Sacred Fig) which is also considered to be one form of Lord Vishnu.
Haribodhani Ekadashi is one of such Ekadashi and falls in the month of Kartik during November. As Lord Vishnu is wedded to Tulsi, this festival also marks the start of the wedding season.
How do People Celebrate Haribodhani Ekadashi?
Haribodhani Ekadashi is one of the major festivals in Nepal. Devotees worship Vishnu and perform Tulsi Vivah. On this celebration day, women fasts. They don’t eat meat, grains, and beans products. It’s a spiritual day and they only eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk products. The popular dishes for Haribodhani Ekadashi are Sweet potato, yam, Co-co Yam, etc. Those who fast are believed to endure happiness, get rid of the negative energies, and attain Nirvana (right peace of mind and thinking of the godlike ones).
In ancient times, the rulers built the Vishnu Temples on every side of the city near the borders. The Vishnu Temples built in the borders were Ichangu Narayan (West of Kathmandu in Nagarjun), Changu Narayan (East in Bhaktapur), Bishankhu Narayan (North in Godhawori), Sesh Narayan (South in Dakshinkali). They built the temples to protect the valley from evil ones. So today, on the occasion of Haribodhani Ekadashi, people travel to these temples to perform ritual rites.
People also visit Narayanthan in Budanilkantha. The temple is on the northern side of Kathmandu in the foothills of Shivapuri National Park. The literal transition of Budanikantha is ” Old Blue Throat”. There’s a stone sculpture of Vishnu on a coil of the cosmic Sesha built on a single stone. The sculpture is in a pool of water. During Haribodhani Ekadashi, a fair is conducted in Budhanikantha inviting thousands of devotees to the open-air temple.
Visiting Vishnu Temples During Haribodhani Ekadashi
During Ekadashi, people visit Vishnu Temples to worship and pray for their well-being. The major celebration happens in the Kathmandu Valley. They visit all the four main temples, Ichangu Narayan (West), Changu Narayan (East), Bishankhu Narayan (North), Sesh Narayan (South) at the borders of the Valley. In the past, people used to walk to all the temples on foot. But these days, you can travel on a bus or a bike. As the road condition is not so good and public vehicles during festivals are over crowed and are not on time, we recommend traveling with a private vehicle. As the temples are distributed over the valley, it might feel like a tedious journey to travel to every temple. But, the positive energy and the adventurous vibes make you keep going during the trip.
Start your journey early in the morning so you can complete it by the evening. It will be a wonderful, adventurous journey. Mostly, people end their journey to Sesh Narayan Temple in Pharping, Dakshinkali as “Sesh” means final. So, you may also end your day in Pharping and get back to Kathmandu watching the night lights of the valley from Pharping.
Those who cannot make a trip to all individual temples can visit Char Narayan Temple. The Temple is in the heart of Kathmandu in Mangal Bazaar. People can worship all four gods collectively there. Besides, you can also visit various Vishnu Temples in the Valley. Some of them are Wakupati Narayan in Bhaktapur near Tilmadhav Narayan temple and the Wonde Narayan at Gunkamdev Marg near Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Tulsi Vivah, Wedding of Lord Vishnu
Tulsi Vivah depicts the wedding ceremony of Lord Vishnu and goddess Laksmi. In the early morning of Haribodhani Ekadashi, people worship Vishnu on an empty stomach. Then they wed Tulsi (basil plant) to Shaligram (a form of Lord Vishnu). Hindus consider Shaligram to be the idol of Lord Vishnu and Tulsi as the reincarnation of goddess Laxmi. So, this is a marriage between Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu.
The ceremony is carried out in a temple or a home. First, the basil plant is decorated with all the belongings of a bride, such as Saari, Jewellery, and others. Likewise, the idol of Vishnu is decorated as a bridegroom. They are then married, putting garlands on them and a vermillion. Similarly, the basil plant and the idol are tied with a thread that signifies their link. This way, the couple is now married. Then devotees shower flowers and rice grains stained in red color (Abir) to the couple. Then the bells and Shankha’s (Conch Shell) are blown to celebrate the togetherness of the beautiful couple. Later, flowers and fruits are distributed to all the devotes as a Prasad.
Women celebrate Tulsi Vivah as a sign of a good marriage. The married ones worship for marital bliss while unmarried ones celebrate by asking for a good loving husband. And after the Tulsi Vivah, the Hindu marriage season starts. This way, Tulsi Vivah is a major celebration carried out during Haribodhani Ekadashi.