Nirjala Ekadashi Customs and Traditions
On ekadashi day, you should get up before sunrise, get fresh, wear washed dress and pray to Lord Vishnu by lighting a lamp (deep) and offering flowers, tulsi, fruits (prefer yellow bananas), and other normal puja items. After prayers, you should meditate for a few minutes. If there is a Vishnu temple near-by, you should visit the temple and participate in puja and aarti. Ladies should offer water to the roots of peepal tree after puja.
After performing puja, you should observe fasting from the sunrise to the next day sunrise. You should not eat or drink anything during this period. If you do so, your fast will be broken. Since, Jyeshtha month falls during peak summer period, it is difficult to live without water. Thirst is quite strong on these days. Only with utmost devotion, you will be able to complete your fast. That’s the reason; only staunch devotees observe it.
During the day, you should recite Vishnu Ashothram/ Sahasrananamam or chant the mantra ‘Om Namo Narayan’ or offer any other prayer dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In the afternoon, you should take bath again and offer prayer to the Lord Vishnu. In the evening, you should do the puja again and visit to Vishnu temple and participate in puja and aarti. Sleeping is not allowed during ekadashi days, but in today’s circumstances, it is not possible for everybody, so you can sleep, if you like.
Next day morning, i.e. on dwadashi day, again you should worship Lord Vishnu with flowers, tulsi, and fruits and light a lamp; offer kshamayachana for your mistakes in the puja. After finishing with puja, you should offer pious (satvik) food to the Brahmans and then, eat yourself.
After breaking fast, you should donate a water pot, cereals, clothes, umbrellas, fan, cow, beetle, bed, mat to sit (asan), and gold as per your capacity to the Brahmans. However, this is not mandatory in today’s circumstances. But, if somebody comes to you to ask for something on this day, try your best not to refuse him/ her. Nirjala ekadashi tests your devotion towards the God.
Some devotees prefer to take only one meal on the dashami day, the day before ekadashi.
Ekadashi is observed for physical and mental purification. You should not strain your body for the sake of fasting. Old and sick people, expected and new mothers should not observe Nirjala ekadashi. There are other ways too for observing Nirjala ekadashi, like donating food and clothes to the poor and needy.