The Holy Apara Ekadasi for this year - 2015 is to be observed on May 14, 2015throughout the world, except by those living in Hawaii region of U.S. Those living in Hawaii should observe this on May 13, 2015 itself.
Significance of this Apara Ekaadasi:
This Ekadasi is specifically recommended for those who are suffering from pangs of anxiety arising out of past short-comings in performing one's rightful duties (out of negligence or other pressing practical circumstances). If you have committed some major sins knowingly or unknowingly and are suffering from remorse for those sinful activities, and want to be freed from the psychological pangs now, observance of this Ekadasi will help. This Ekaadasi can free one from sins like Brahmahati (that can cause depressive tendencies and may even lead to more serious psychological disturbances as a consequence of one's sins), Gohatya and other major sins.
Apara Ekaadasi punya is equivalent to all the following meritorious religious activities taken together!....
1) Bathing in the Holy Pushkara thrice a day, everyday throughout the lunar month of Kaarthika;
2) Having Maagha snaana at Holy Prayaag.
3) Performing Seva to Lord Shiva at Vaaranaasi kshetra during shiva Raatri;
4) Gaya shraddam for one's ancestors;
5) Bathing in the Holy Gautami River during Jupiter's transit into Simha rashi;
6) Having Shri Kedaarnaath darshan.
7) Having Badrinaath darshan during the kumba maasa (sun in kumbha raashi)
8) Taking a bath in Kurukshetra during solar eclipse and donating cows, elephants, and gold in charity to worthy Brahmins.
9) Donating a pregnant cow, along with gold and fertile land.
Method of observing Ekaadasi vratham:
Try to limit intake of food slowly starting from the previous day (dasami) itself. Avoid consuming honey, onion, garlic, and such ritually impure items on dasami day (the day before ekaadasi fast) itself and also prepare yourself mentally too by meditating on Lord Hari.
On the day of Ekaadasi fast, you must get up early in the morning, take a bath, and with full intent maintain the fast. Ideally, the fast should be complete - avoiding even drinking water. However, if this is not possible, you may water-down the intensity of the fast like - a fruit-only fast, juice-only fast, milk-only fast, or whatever depending on your health condition. On Ekaadasi day, pulses and grains should be strictly avoided (especially Rice). This Ekaadasi is mandatory for all believers with good health between the ages 7 and 70. (Pregnant women, old aged persons, and ailing persons are exempt these; even women in their monthly periods can fast on ekaadasi and meditate on Lord Hari silently without chanting mantras!)
On the night of Ekaadasi fast, it is recommended to keep a whole night vigil - listening to Lord's wonderful leelaas from various scriptures, or reading Bhagavat Gitaa, or simply chanting Lord's names like Hari, Raam, Krishna, Hare Ramakrishna, etc.
On Dwaadasi - the day after the fast, the fast should be broken within 2 hours 24 mins. after sunrise at your place, at an auspicious time. Those who have maintained a full fast (without even water) can break the fast by just consuming Tulsi teertham (Tulsi-soaked water). Others can break fast by eating fruits.
On Dwaadasi thithi, tamarind and chillies should be avoided while cooking. Lemon can be used instead of Tamarind; pepper can be used instead of chillies to flavour the food-items.
It is good to consume Amla on dwaadasi thithi as this endears one to Lord Krishna.
One who maintains this fast of Apara Ekaadasi will win fame and reknown besides cutting off the roots of all negative karmaas.
May all our members undertake this Holy Fast and relieve themselves of all negative karmaas.
Pandit R. DAKSHINAMOORTHI.