If we break the word Ekadashi, to Ek-Dashi it means 11th (Eleventh) Day of the Month. In the same way if we break the word Nirjala to nir-jal which means “without water” this makes the word Nirjala Ekadasi. It falls in the month of Jyestha in Shukla Paksha which comes in June according to Roman calendar. This year it falls in 22nd of June.
This day is one of the most sacred and important day of Hindu religion where Hindus keep fast dedicated to Lord Vishnu, without consuming even a drop of water for whole day, this also makes Nirjala Ekadashi as one of the toughest fasting day in Hinduism, one of the oldest religion of world.
There are 24 Ekadashis fasts observed in a year. But, there are strong beliefs that keeping fast on Nirjala Ekadashi give benefits of fasting in all 24 Ekadashi.
A story of Mahabharata is closely related with the importance of Nirjala Ekadashi
The Bhimsena asked his Grandfather and great saint Shirla Vyas Ji that is it possible to receive spiritual benefits without attempting fasts on Ekadashis? The conversation continues when Bhimsena described the his reason of not attending fasts on all 24 Ekadashi
“Oh greatly intelligent and learned grandfather, my brother Yudhisthira, my dear mother Kunti, and my beloved wife Draupadi, as well as Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, fast completely on each Ekadashi and strictly follow all the rules, guidelines and regulative injunctions of that sacred day. Being very religious, they always tell me that I should also fast on that day too. But, Oh learned grandfather, I tell them that I cannot live without eating, because as the son of Vayudeva – Samanaprana, hunger is unbearable to me. I can give widely in charity and worship Lord Keshava properly with all manner of wonderful upacharas (items), but I cannot be asked to fast on Ekadashi. Please tell me how I can obtain the same merits result without fasting.” Source:here
On this, the great saint Shirla Vyas ji asked Bhimsena to fast on Ekadasi which falls during the light fortnight of the month of Jyestha (May-June) is very powerful. On this day, the sun travels in the signs of Taurus (Vrishabh) and Gemini. If one observes strict fasting on this day, without drinking even water, he could easily get sum total of all benefits that one gets by observing other ekadasis.
Thus, Nirjala Ekadasi/Ekadashi is also known as Bhimsani Ekadashi, Pandava Ekadashi or Jyeshta Shukla Ekadashi.
Kite Flying on Nirjala Ekadashi
Udaipur has its own tradition of Kite Flying on this sacred day, however there are no historical proof available anywhere to give logical reason of kite flying on Nirjala Ekadashi but it is hundreds of year old tradition still followed by people of Udaipur with great respect and joy.
It is said from an unauthentic source that at the time of Maharajas, nobody was allowed accept Royal Family of Udaipur to fly kites. It is believed that flying kite on Nirjala Ekadashi which is also called Nirjala Gyaras in Udaipur is only observed by Maharajas and their families.
Later, it became a tradition of flying kites on this day.
Thanks to the UT Volunteers Neha Maheshwari and Praveesh Gupta for their contribution in making this article, they helped in providing resources, facts and figures)