Vaikunta Ekadasi 2021 at Srirangam14 December 2021
In 2021, Vaikunta Ekadasi is celebrated on 14 Dec. during the Tamil month of Karthikai. Usually, Vaikunta Ekadasi is celebrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi. So why this confusion? Well, there is none. Let me explain briefly.
Lord Chandra thought Himself to be the most handsome ever created and became arrogant. He was cursed that His beauty will increase and diminish every 15 days. These 15 days are known as one paksha.
In the traditional calendar month, there are two pakshas (fortnight) – Krishna Paksha and Sukla Paksha. Krishna, in Sanskrit language also means darkness. The Lord was named thus because He was born so black that one couldn’t distinguish the baby and darkness alike. So, the fortnight from Full moon day (Pournami) to No Moon day (Amavasya) is known as Krishna Paksha and the other fortnight from Amavasya to Pournami day is known as Sukla Paksha.
Vaikunta Ekadasi falls on the Sukla Paksha Ekadasi of Tamil Margazhi month (Dhanur maasa in Sanskrit). This is a fixed routine and cannot be changed.
However, there is an exception at Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangam.
There are four Brahmotsavam festivals celebrated here at Srirangam.
Brahmotsavam is a festival, where it is considered that Lord Brahma Himself comes down to Earth to perform rituals and pujas to the Lord at several shrines including Tirumala Tirupati among others. The four Brahmotsavam festivals at Srirangam happen during the Tamil months Thai, Maasi, Panguni and Chithirai | Sanskrit months Pausha, Magha, Phalguna & Chaitra (from Jan. – Apr) every year.
The Thai maasa Brahmotsavam happens for 21 days during which the Sukla Paksha Ekadasi occurs. This is the usual routine.
However, this year, the Car festival – Thiru Ther – occurs on Punarvasu Star of Thai / Pausha Maasa which falls on 17 Jan. ’22. The Sukla Paksha Ekadasi falls on 14 Jan. ’22 which is also Bhogi festival ahead of Pongal festival. Hence, the previous month Sukla Paksha Ekadasi is the day Vaikunta Ekadasi is followed at Srirangam temple.
It is to be noted that the idol of the Lord in recline at Srirangam was formed by it’s own even as Lord Brahma was performing penance and wanted to have a view of His creator for the first time. Many yugas later, King Ikshvaku of the Surya kula (dynasty) requested Lord Brahma to give him the idol for his nithya (daily) pujas. Many generations later, Lord Rama performed pujas to the same idol before finally giving it as a parting gift to King Vibhishana, younger brother of Ravana, upon the Lord’s coronation at Ayodhya. From the hands of Vibhishana, the Lord decided to stay at Srirangam island facing Sri Lanka in the Southern direction, where River Kauvery forms a garland from the Lord’s head to toe branching off in to two streams.
Therefore, the rituals at Srirangam mimic the ones that occur at Sri Vaikunta where Lord Brahma performs them in the same way.
Along with Srirangam, a few other temples such as the ones at Thirucherai, Sriperumbudur and Maduramangalam, among others follow a similar pattern.
The above notes have been adapted from an Upanyasam (discourse) in Tamil language by Velukkudi U. Ve. Sri Krishnan Swamy. Listen to this portion in the video from 44.00 – 48.00 where he explains the same.
Thousands of devotees throng the Srirangam temple to seek His blessings. Millions of us are not able to visit due to various material reasons. We pray the Almighty to bless us with abundant grace and be kind enough to take us along with Him eventually and at the soonest to Sri Vaikunta, His eternal abode.