The literal translation of the Sanskrit word, Ekadashi, is 'the eleventh’. The festival of Ekadashi refers to the eleventh day of a fortnight in a Hindu Lunar month. According to the Hindu calendar, there are two fortnights in a lunar month – one bright and the other dark. Thus, Ekadashi occurs twice in a month, once in the bright fortnight and then again once in the dark fortnight.
During the festival, devotees worship Lord Vishnu. A traditional ritual observed on Ekadashi is the Ekadashi vrat (a fast) kept by devotees to seek Lord Vishnu’s blessings. The Ekadashi Vrat spans for three days.
Devotees have a single meal a day in the afternoon before fasting, to make sure there is no residual food in their stomachs on the next day. The fast is broken after sunrise, on the day after the Ekadashi.
Different types of fast are observed on this day. Some choose to fast without water, some with water and some only eat fruits. It is believed that by fasting, one can become alert and attentive, and become more devoted towards God.